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THE UNIVERSITY OF OKLAHOMA

GRADUATE COLLEGE

AN EXPERT SYSTEM FOR HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

A DISSERTATION

SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE FACULTY

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the

degree of

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

By

STEPHEN JOHN WEBBER

Norman, Oklahoma

1994
AN EXPERT SYSTEM FOR HYDRAULIC FRACTURING

A DISSERTATION

APPROVED FOR THE SCHOOL OF PETROLEUM AND

GEOLOGICAL ENGINEERING
Copyright by Stephen John Webber 1994

All rights reserved


Nature is no spendthrift but takes the shortest way to her ends

Ralph Waldo Emerson

IV
ABSTRACT

An expert system has been developed to assist users in the design of hydraulic

fracture treatments. The program advises on the most appropriate type of, numer-

ical design model, proppant, and fracturing ftuid(s}. After each consultation users

can interface with the fracture design program of their choice. The user can also

run a simple economic analysis of the proposed treatment. Three databases are

accessed, containing information on, the mechanical properties of a large number

of rock formations, approximately 70 proppants, and approximately 260 fracturing

fluids. Two external executable programs are run from within the expert system;

the first performs an economic analysis, and the second selects suitable proppants.

The expert system is intended to assist the inexperienced engineer, and as such, ex-

tensive on-line help facilities are available. Help is available on each of the requested

input parameters as well as on the decision making process used to arrive at the

final recommendations. After each consultation, the user is provided with a detailed

report which lists the entered data, the recommendations and the reasoning behind

the recommendations. The user can print the report and/or save it onto a disk.

The knowledge-base was written using the NEXPERT OBJECT shell, whilst. the

graphical user interface was written using TOOLBOOK. Both software packages

run under WINDOWS.

v
Acknowledgements

Many people made significant contributions to this thesis.

First and foremost, I would like to thank my advisor, Dr J-C Roegiers for his assis-

tance and encouragement during the course of this study and for greatly broadening

my knowledge of rock mechanics. Secondly, I would like to thank the members of

my committee, Dr A.B. Badiru, Dr R.D. Evans, Dr J.E. Fagan, Dr A. Gupta and

Dr D. Lin, for their assistance over the past 3 years.

The financial support of OCAST is gratefully acknowledged.

I would like to thank those persons who responded to the questionnaires. Without

their input this project would not have succeeded. Several persons made contribu-

tions without which this project would have been significantly inferior. For this, I

thank, Dan Hoskins, Carl Mongomery, Bryant Hainey and Paul Fletcher of ARCO

E & P.

Numerous discussions with Ahmad Ghassemi greatly improved my understanding

of rock mechanics. Don Cruickshank helped a great deal with computing problems.

Carla Cates, Anne Halley and, Sharon Wullich assisted with word processing mat-

tel's.

Finally, thanks are due to my friends and family, whose support and encouragement

at the nadir made all this possible.

To those persons I have inadvertently omitted THANKS!

VI
Contents

ABSTRACT v

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS VI

LIST OF FIGURES xii

LIST OF TABLES XVll

1 Introduction 1

1.1 Background 1

1.2 Expert system technology 6

1.2.1 Advantages of expert systems 8

1.3 Motivation for this project 8

1.3.1 Aim of this project 10

2 Literature Review 12

2.1 A Brief History of Expert System Development 12

2.2 Expert Systems in Petroleum Engineering ... .. 14

Vll
2.2.1 Drilling and Completions. 17

2.2.2 Well Stimulation ..... 21

2.2.3 Miscellaneous Expert Systems 23

2.3 Need for this Expert System ..... 25

3 Design of Hydraulic Fracture Treatments 27

3.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . 27

3.2 Selection of Appropriate Wells . 28

3.3 Model Selection . . . . . . . . . 31

3.3.1 Three-dimensional models 34

3.3.2 Pseudo-three-dimensional models 37

3.3.3 Two-dimensional models . . . . . 38

3.3.4 Two-dimensional model selection 44

3.4 Proppant Selection ... 46

3.5 Fract uring fluid selection 58

3.5.1 Water-based fluids 61

3.5.2 Oil-based fluids .. 64

3.5.3 Alcohol-based fluids. 64

3.5.4 Emulsion fluids 65

3.5.5 Foam fluids 66

3.5.6 Additives 67

3.5.7 Base fluid selection 72

Vlll
3.6 The economics of fracturing 74

3.6.1 Governing Equations 77

4 Expert System Design and Construction 80

4.1 Introduction . . . . . . . . . 80

4.2 Expert System Components 82

4.3 Help Facilities . . . . 85

4.4 Software Tools Used 95

4.4.1 Expert System Shell 110

4.4.2 Graphical User Interface 111

4.5 Knowledge Acquisition 112

4.5.1 Introd uction . 112

4.5.2 This Project. 115

4.6 Knowledge-base Construction 117

5 Validation and Verification 119

5.1 Verification 120

5.2 Validation . 121

5.3 This study. 124

6 How to Use this Application 129

6.1 Software Requirements 129

6.2 Using the Program .. 130

IX
6.3 Example Applications 136

6.3.1 Example 1 137

6.3.2 Example 2 145

6.3.3 Example 3 150

7 Conclusions and Recommendations 192

7.1 Recommendations for Future Work .194

8 References 198

A Derivation of 2-D Model equations 212

A.l Fracture Width equations .212

A.l.l PKN Model .214

A.1.2 GDK Model .217

A.2 Fracture Length Equation .219

B Preliminary Questionnaire 222

B.l Fracture or not? .222

B.2 Fracture design .223

B.3 Post fracture analysis .226

B.4 Comments ........ .227

C Fracturing fluid selection 228

C.l Fracturing fluids .228

C.2 Additives .... .230

x
C.3 Comments 231

Xl
List of Figures

1.1 The hydraulic fracturing process (after Veatch et al., 1989).. 2

1.2 The components of an expert system (after Badiru 1992)... 7

3.1 Example width calculations for a three layer case (adapted from

Warpinski and Smith 1989). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 35

3.2 Example width calculations for a seven layer case (adapted from

Warpinski and Smith 1989). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 35

3.3 Fracture vertical growth for various stress contrasts (after Ben-Naceur

1989). ..... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 36

3.4 Fracture width profile at the wellbore for different modulus contrasts

(after Mukherjee and Morales 1992). . . 36

3.5 A schematic representation of the PKN model geometry. 42

3.6 A schematic representation of the GDK model geometry. 42

3.7 Desired fracture half-lengths for different formation permeabilities

(after Elkins, 1980). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 49

XII
3.8 Log-log type-curves for finite capacity vertical fractures-constant well-

bore pressure (after Agarwal et al., 1979). 50

3.9 Percentage of original conductivity vs. time (after Montgomery and

Steanson, 1985). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 56

3.10 Net Present Value (NPV) as a function of fracture length. The axes

scales are arbitrary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

4.1 The components of the expert system. 86

4.2 A flow chart showing the decision making process of the expert system. 87

4.3 The decision making process of module I of figure 4.2. . 88

4.4 The decision making process of module II of figure 4.2 . 89

4.5 The decision making process of module III of ~gure 4.2. . 90

4.6 The decision making process of module IV of figure 4.2. . 91

4.7 The decision making process involved in modules V, VI, VII, and VIII

of figure 4.2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92

4.8 The main menu screen of the HELP system. . 96

4.9 The ABOUT ADVISOR help screen. . .. 97

4.10 The INPUT PARAMETERS help screen .. 98

4.11 The CALCULATED PARAMETERS help screen. 99

4.12 The ECONOMIC PARAMETERS help screen. . .100

4.13 The NUMERICAL MODEL SELECTION help screen. . 101

4.14 The TWO-DIMENSIONAL MODELS help screen. .. . 102

Xlll
4.15 The GDK MODEL help screen. 103

4.16 The PKN MODEL help screen. 104

4.17 The FRACTURING FLUID SELECTION help screen. 105

4.18 The WATER-BASED FLUIDS help screen .. 106

4.19 The FLUID ADDITIVES help screen ..... 107

4.20 The PROPPANT SELECTION help screen. 108

6.1 Graphical user interface screen 1. 155

6.2 Graphical user interface screen 2. 156

6.3 Graphical user interface screen 3. 157

6.4 Graphical user interface screen 4. 158

6.5 Graphical user interface screen 5. 159

6.6 Graphical user interface screen 6. 160

6.7 Graphical user interface screen 7. 161

6.8 Graphical user interface screen 8. 162

6.9 Graphical user interface screen 9. 163

6.10 Graphical user interface screen 10.. 164

6.ll Graphical user interface screen 11. . 165

6.12 Graphical user interface screen 12.. 166

6.13 Graphical user interface screen 13.. 167

6.14 Graphical user interface screen 14.. 168

6.15 Graphical user interface screen 15.. 169

XIV
6.16 Graphical user interface screen 16.. 170

6.17 Graphical user interface screen 17.. 171

6.18 Graphical user interface screen 18.. 172

6.19 Graphical user interface screen 19.. 173

6.20 Graphical user interface screen 20 .. 174

6.21 Graphical user interface screen 21. . 175

6.22 Graphical user interface screen 22 .. 176

6.23 Graphical user interface screen 23 .. 177

6.24 Graphical user interface screen 24 .. 178

6.25 Graphical user interface screen 25 .. 179

6.26 Graphical user interface screen 26 .. 180

6.27 Graphical user interface screen 27 .. 181

6.28 Graphical user interface screen 28 .. 182

6.29 Graphical user interface screen 29 .. 183

6.30 Graphical user interface screen 30 .. 184

6.31 Graphical user interface screen 31. . 185

6.32 Graphical user interface screen 32 .. 186

6.33 Graphical user interface screen 33 .. 187

6.34 Graphical user interface screen 34.. 188

6.35 Graphical user interface screen 35.. 189

6.36 Graphical user interface screen 36.. 190

6.37 Graphical user interface screen 37.. 191

xv
A.1 The pressurised crack problem modelled by England and Green (1963).213

XVI
List of Tables

2.1 Areas in which Expert Systems have been developed (after Alegre

1991). . . . . . . .. 16

:l.1 Comparison of fracture design calculations. for different fracturing

models (after Geertsma and Haafkens, 19i9).. . . . . . . . . . . . .. 33

6.1 Input parameters for example 1. 1:38

6.2 Input parameters for example 2. 146

6.:3 Input parameters for example 3. 150

XVII
Chapter 1

Introduction

1.1 Background

Hydraulic fracturing plays a crucial role in the enhancement of petroleum reserves

and daily production. The practice, introduced in 1947, is now a routine stimulation

tool. Approximately 35% - 40% of currently drilled wells are hydraulically fractured

with over 1 million treatments performed by 1988; hydraulic fracturing has made

25% - :30% of the United States oil reserves economically viable and has increased

North America's oil reserves by 8 billions barrels (Veatch et a1., 1989).

A formation is hydraulically fractured by pumping fluids at high pressure down

the well bore. When the fluid pressure exceeds the tensile strength of the rock and

the in-situ stress concentration, a fracture is initiated. If a pre-existing fracture is

being re-opened then the tensile strength of the rock is zero. Initially, a neat fluid.

known as a "pad", is pumped to initiate the fracture. This is followed by a slurry

1
of fluid mixed with a propping agent, known as "proppant". The slurry carries the

proppant deep into the fracture, simultaneously propagating the fracture. When

pumping ceases, the fluid viscosity is decreased ("broken") and the remaining fluid

flows back to the wellbore. The proppant remains in place preventing the fracture

from closing fully; thus creating a highly permeable alternative path for the reservoir

fluids to flowto the wellbore. The fracturing process is shown schematically in figure

1.1.

Fracturing
Fluid

Figure 1.1: The hydraulic fracturing process (after Veatch et aI., 1989).

2
The success of a fracture treatment is critically dependent on the ability of the

fracture to transmit fluids, a factor known as the "fracture conductivity". For low

permeability reservoirs, production is limited by the formation permeability whereas

for high permeability reservoirs the production is limited by the permeability of the

fracture. In short, for fracturing to be successful, the permeability (If the created

fracture must. be significantly higher than that of the formation. In addition, the

fracture length required to achieve a given production increase is inversely pro-

portional to the formation permeability. Thus, in general, long thin fractures are

appropriate for low permeability formations and short wide fracture are appropriate

for high permeability formations.

Hydraulic fracturing is also used for purposes other than well stimulation. It can

be used to negate the effects of near-wellbore damage resulting from drilling and

completions. Fracturing is also used to increase injectivity in disposal and injection

wells, and to minimise sand production.

Initially, fracturing was a low technology operation consisting of the injection, at

low temperatures, of a few thousand gallons of napalm into low pressure reservoirs.

Subsequently, hydraulic fracturing has evolved into a hil?hly engineered and complex

procedure (Veatch et al., 1989). As technology has improved, so has the number

of wells, formations, and fields that can be successfully fractured, increased. The

development. of high rate, high pressure pump units, high strength proppants, and

sophisticated fracturing fluids, has meant that deep, low permeability, high temper-

ature, reservoirs can now be fractured. In addition, increased access to high powered
computing facilities has meant that fracture treatments can be designed in a matter

of minutes or hours.

Fracture treatments vary in size from mini-hydraulic treatments for short fracture

length (~ .500 gallons of fracturing fluid) to deeply penetrating massive fracture

treatments which now exceed 1 million gallons of fluid and 3 million pounds of

proppant. The record quantity of proppant used in a single job, established in 1987,

is 7 million pounds (Elbel, 1989).

The essential elements of a fracture treatment are the numerical model used to

design the treatment, the proppant used to keep the fracture open, and the fluid(s)

used to propel t.he proppant and propagate the fracture.

There are a number of different numerical models in use, which are discussed

in detail in chapter III. The assumptions inherent in each imply that the predicted

fracture geometry can vary greatly from model to model for the same set of input.

data. The model ultimately selected determines the quantity of proppant and frac-

turing fluids used and thus affects the theoretical economic returns expected from

the treatment.

The proppant is selected on the basis of, strength, desired fracture conductivity,

availability, and economics. For each treatment there will be a number of proppants

t hat meet the first three criteria, so the ultimate choice is made on the basis of cost.

The choice of fracturing fluid depends, largely, on the fluid-rock compatibility,

and the reservoir characteristics. Fluids must be able to initiate the fracture. prop-

agate it, and transport the proppant deep into the fracture, wit.hout damaging the

4
formation (Econornides and Nolte, 1989). Ideal fracturing fluids have complex time-

rlependent properties. High viscosity is required to transport the proppant and to

prevent premature settling. Once the job is complete, the fluid must lose it's vis-

cosity and flow back out of the fracture, allowing the reservoir fluids to be produced

unhindered (Econornides and Nolte, 1989).

Clearly, the design of a fracture treatment is a complex process with the choice of

numerical model, proppant, and fluid, intimately related. Currently, it is common

practice to select these on the basis of experience. If a nearby well was success-

fully stimulated then it is often considered that the same treatment can also be

successfully applied to adjacent wells. There is no consistent set of rules for design-

ing a fracture treatment. This is not a problem for experienced practitioners hut

it is obviously a problem for personnel unfamiliar with hydraulic fracturing. Until

relatively recently, little attention was given to optimizing the fracture treatment.

If the treatment resulted in a significant increase in production, and thus income,

then the treatment was regarded as successful. However, as the size of treatments

has increased, the amount of capital at risk also increases so it is important that

treatments be optimized so as to maximise the economic returns.

Thus it is clearly desirable to enable the inexperienced engineer to design a

fracture treatment with a minimum of experience and to gain access t.o expert.

knowledge at. the same time.

;)
1.2 Expert system technology

..\IJ expert system may be defined as "... an interactive computer-based decision fool

lh at uses both facts and heuristics to solve decision problems based on knowledge.

acquired from an expert." (Badiru, 1992).

Expert systems may be viewed as computer models of the thought processes of

human experts. Expert systems are an emerging technology that is rapidly becoming

an integral part of everyday life. As tasks previously performed by humans become

increasingly computerised, those tasks involving human judgment will become fertile

grounds for the application of expert system technology. The best applications for

expert systems are those dealing with expert heuristics to solve problems. Applica-

tions that are computationally intensive or deterministic in nature are best handled

by conventional programs. Thus fracture design would not be a good candidate for

the application of expert systems.

Successful expert systems are those that combine facts and heuristics, merging

computer power with human knowledge in the pursuit of a solution(s) to the problem

at hand. To be effective, an expert system must be sharply focused on a narrow

problem domain.

An expert system is composed of three parts:

1. The knowledge-base. This is comprised of rules, procedures, and intrinsic data,

relevant to the problem domain. A knowledge-base is essentially a translation

of knowledge acquired from human experts into a set of rules and strategies.

6
2. The working memory. This contains data specific to the problem currently

being solved.

3. The inference engine. This is the control mechanism that organises the prob-

lem data and searches the knowledge-base for the applicable rules. There are

a number of commercially available inference engines.

The components of an expert system are shown in figure 1.2.

. Domain Expert
Transfer of Expertise j

r
Control Structure
Knowledge Knowledge Structure

Engineer

,r
Inference
External
Interfaces - ~.~~~~.:
- ....Working ....
- - Knowledge
Base
Memory
r
j Problem Data

'I I Solutions Updates
r
,~ User Interface
Data Bases I-
- (Consultation/Explanation)
Spreadsheets
Executable Programs r-
-

Figure 1.2: The components of an expert system (after Badiru 1992).

7
1.2.1 Advantages of expert systems

Expert systems offer an environment where the reasoning strengths of the human

mind ran be integrated with computational power to overcome the limitations of

conventional programs. Some of the benefits of expert systems include (Badiru,

L992):

increase m the probability, frequency, and consistency of making good deci-

sions.

available to a large number of people at their convenience.

enable non-experts to make expert level decisions.

ensure that knowledge is not lost when human experts change careers, retire,

or are no longer available for consultation.

make objective, unbiased decisions that are unaffected by human emotions.

1.3 Motivation for this project

The ultimate aim of a fracture treatment is to increase production in such a manner

that profits are enhanced. Maximising profitability involves minimising the job cost

and maximising the production increase. As the treatment size increases so does the

cost of the equipment required and the qua.ntity of materials involved. In treatments

of 500,000 gallons or more, fracturing costs can be responsible for up to half of the

8
total well cost (including fracturing) (Veatch et al., 1989). In those areas where

massive hydraulic fracturing accounts for a large proportion of the total well costs,

the import.ance of fracturing is equal to or greater than that of development drilling

for increased reserves.

Clearly, for large treatments, significant savings can be made by selecting the

right materials. For example, sand and bauxite proppants may vary in cost by a

factor of 8 or more. so that in conditions of low closure stress it is preferable to use

sand, if possible. Similarly, it is not cost effective to use fracturing fluids designed

for high temperature conditions in low temperature reservoirs.

In the past, fracture treatments have been haphazard in nature. Because frac-

turing almost always resulted in production increases, there was little requirement

to optimize the treatments. However, the amount of money invested in large treat-

ments has meant that economic optimization is crucial if the job is to be profitable.

Fracture design still involves much judgment as well as engineering (Veatch et

al., 1989). In many, if not most, cases it is still not possible to obtain accurate

determinations of parameters, such as the stress field and in-situ rock properties,

which significantly affect fracture propagation and dimensions. Consequently, the

ability to optimize fracture treatment design and economics is still limited. Because

so much judgment and intuition are involved in fracture design, it is an area that is

ideally suited for the application of artificial intelligence technology such as expert

systems.

9
1.3.1 Aim of this project

The aim of this project is to develop an expert system that advises the user on

the I1lOSt. appropriate fracture treatment for a given set of circumstances. It is not

intended that. the expert system design the fracture itself but merely provides advice.

The user can use the program as a front end to available design programs. The user

inputs available rock mechanics/reservoir/economic data and the expert system will

provide advice on the following:

Whether or not it is appropriate to fracture the formation.

If fracturing is viable, which numerical model is appropriate?, 2-D, 3-D, or

pseudo-3- D ?

If a 2-D model is appropriate then which one, PKN, GDK, or RADIAL?

The treatment economics.

The most appropriate proppant and concentration.

The most appropriate fracturing fluid(s).

The expert system also has the additional features of:

Access to 3 databases containing information on, the mechanical properties of

almost iOO rock formations, approximately 70 proppants, and approximately

260 fluids.

10
r\ facility that enables the user to enter data on rock formations that are 1101.

referenced in the database.

A detailed output report which contain information on the criteria used to

arrive at the recommendations. The report can be saved to disk and printed.

Extensive on-line help facilities. The user can obtain information on any of the

requested input parameters by clicking on the "Help" button or by depressing

the F'l-key,

The expert system will then interface with available fracture design programs allow-

ing the user to design a treatment if they wish.

11
Chapter 2

Literature Review

Expert Systems have achieved considerable success since they were first developed

in the mid 1960's. Systems have attained expert levels in such diverse fields as

mineral prospecting, chess, medical diagnosis, symbolic mathematics and chemical

structure elucidation.

2.1 A Brief History of Expert System Develop-

ment

III the beginning, Expert System research was dominated by a naive belief that a

few reasoning rules, coupled with powerful computers, would be capable of expert

performance equaling or exceeding human performance. It soon became obvious

that general-purpose problem-solving strategies lacked the strength to solve most

complex problems. This realisation led many researchers to concentrate on narrowly

12
defined application problems.

The DENDRAL project at Stanford University produced two Expert Systems,

DEN ORAL and !vIETA-OENORAL (Buchanan and Mitchell, 1977; Buchanan and

Feigenbaum, 1978; Feigenbaum et al., 1971; Lindsay et al., 1980). OENORAL

analyses mass spectrographic, nuclear magnetic resonance, and other experimental

chemical data to deduce the realistic structures of an unknown chemical compound.

It systematically generates partial nuclear structures fitting the data constraints and

elaborates them in all plausible ways. DENORAL was found to surpass all humans

at its tasks and has led to a redefinition of the roles of humans and computers in

chemical research (Hayes-Roth et al., 1983). META-DENDRAL is essentially an

extension of DENORAL. It adds analysis knowledge to DENDRAL by proposing

and selecting fragmentation rules for organic structures. It examines experimental

data and tests possible fragmentations, retaining the hypothetical rules that are

considered sufficiently valuable. A rule is valuable if it applies frequently but predicts

incorrect fragmentations rarely.

MACSYMA is an Expert System developed for symbolic mathematics (Mart.in

and Faternan. 1971). It performs differential and integral calculus symbolically, in-

corporating hundreds of rules; like DENORAL it out performs most human experts.

i'vIYCIN addresses the problem of diagnosing and treating infectious blood dis-

eases (Shortliff. 1976). Its knowledge-base comprises approximately 400 rules. MYCIN

tests a rule's condition against available data or requests input from the physician.

;vlYCIN's use of simple independent IF-THEN rules led to the development of a


number of related systems such as PROSPECTOR, which used a similar form of

knowledge representation for mineral deposit relationships. EMYCIN contained

all of ~IYCIN except its knowledge of infectious blood diseases making it domain

independent.

ROSIE (Fain et al., UJS1, 1982) provided a general all purpose programming

system for building Expert Systems. ROSIE used a rille-oriented style of knowledge

representation and also included additional features such as interactive communi-

cations with users and an interactive programming environment. ROSIE was the

first system designed to support a wide class of new expert system applications

(Hayes-Roth et aI., 1983).

During the 1980's, Expert Systems gained significant exposure and have become

a practical tool for solving real problems. Coupled with this growing popularity,

there has been a proliferation of commercial shells which allow the technology to be

applied to t he domain of the users choice.

2.2 Expert Systems in Petroleum Engineering

A survey III 1989 of approximately half the organisations using Artificial Intelli-

gence (AI) technology listed over 800 applications (Braunschweig, 1992). A signifi-

cant number of these have emerged from the prototype stage enabling companies to

make substantial monetary savings. Knowledge-based systems are an integral part

of data processing development methods and are becoming increasingly prevalent

14
ITl technical information and management systems. Unfortunately, due to confi-

dentiality requirements, the true pervasiveness of Artificial Intelligence technology

within the industrial environment will never be known with any certainty. Of the

two AI technologies, Expert Systems and Neural Networks, Expert Systems have

the most advanced software and are considered to have the greatest potential for im-

mediate success (Smutz, 1989). However, the potential applications of the pattern

recognition capabilities of Neural Networks are the subject of intensive research.

Neural Networks are likely to become commonplace once suitable petroleum appli-

cations are recognised. The increasing number of Expert System applications in

the petroleum industry stems directly from the huge experimental knowledge-base

that results from years of experience and training. In addition it is now possible

to cornputerise many of the tasks that possess the requirements for application of

Expert System technology. The areas for which Expert Systems have already been

developed are shown in table 2.1.

The following sections review the more prominent Expert Systems that have

been used in the petroleum industry. Many of the applications mentioned in ta-

hie 2.1 are proprietary and are mentioned only briefly, if at all, in the literature.

Most expert systems used in the petroleum industry are developed in-house (e.g.

ACID1'\'IAN, Blackburn et al., 1990) or specifically for a given company. As such,

most applications are not commercially available. One notable exception is ODDA

(Offshore Directional Drilling Advisor) which was developed jointly by, petroleum

companies, Total and Norsk Hydro and several software contractors. This applica-

15
tion IS being agressively marketed worldwide.

Geology Utilisation
Interpretation of deposition environment Lubricant formuJation
Geostatlst.ics Offshore Production/Production
Log quality control Design of separators anci pial forms
Log interpretation and correlation Production process control
Identification of minerals Diagnosisj'mainrenance of "'1IUpm"lIt
Rock clessificar ion Intelligent iuterface for finit .. ",,"n"'lIt ,nftwilr"
Basin/prospect appraisal Allocation of offshore plat form.
Analysis of rock samples, thin sections, and chromatography Automatic planning and scheduling
Petrophysical evaluation Risk analysis
Seismic Transportation
Interpretation of local and multiple seismic signals Pipeline design and scheduling
Interpretation of seismic sections Tankers
Preparation of seismic campaigns Refining and Petrochemistry
Filtering of seismic signals Process design
Reservoir Engineering Process control
Fluid properrles characterisation Diagnosis and maintenance
Reservoir model identification by analysis of well tests Corrosion control
Intelligent front-end for mathematical simulator Fault diagnosis at petrochemical plants
Formation damage Safety 'Study
Waterflood monitoring Regulations
EOR [screening] Browsing large documents
Matrix acidizing Risk ,,,,al)',is
Water qualil)' Others
Drilling and Completions Intelligent decision support syskllls
Directional drilling 1)I'~J>aration Optimizat ion
R iser analysi~
Drilling mud select inn
Drilling mud monitoring during drilling
"ick control
Drill-bit select ion and monitoring
Slimhole conrrol
Ga,' lift

Table 2.1 - Areas IT! which Expert Systems have been developed (after Alegre,

19!1I ).

Hi
2.2.1 Drilling and Completions

One of the more prominent Expert Systems currently being used is OODA (Offshore

Directional Drilling Advisor). Developed jointly by Norsk Hydro and Total Norge.

ODDA is designed to optimize drilling operations and is composed of seven modules

(Cayeux, 1992):

1. Planning phase.

The field planning module optimizes the platform or well cluster distri-

bution so as to minimise the required drilling footage.

The well planning module optimizes the well trajectory based on geomet-

rical considerations, drilling constraints, and previous experience.

2. Operational phase.

The Drill Ahead/Pull Out of Hole module advises the drilling engineer

when the bottom hole assembly (BHA) should be changed.

When a BHA change occurs, the BHA Recommendation Advisor module

assists the user in the design and configuration of a new assembly.

:J. Evaluation phase.

The Well Analysis module performs automatic and manually-controlled

filtering of data, trend evaluation, and analysis of drill string behaviour.

17
The Multi-Well Query module uses the output from the Well Analysis

module to present the user with statistical information about assembly

behaviour .

.L The Post Analysis module provides previous data to the other modules. This

module is invisible to the user.

ODDA was developed using the Smeci Expert System shell and runs on Sun

work-stations under Unix (Amara and Martin, 1990). The program is being com-

mercially marketed by a joint venture between the French software distribution

company, ILOG, and the petroleum companies, TOTAL and Norsk Hydro.

DES (Drilling Expert System) was written to provide the user with diagnosis,

analysis, optimizations, and recommendations about problems encountered during

drilling, or about well design performed in the office (Simpson, 1986). The system

is made up of over 100 drilling engineering programs and five drilling engineering

Expert Systems. The suite of programs covers subjects such as bit selection, di-

rectional drilling, abnormal pressure detection, and mud engineering. The Expert

Systems (Mud Doctor, Well Planner, Drilling Fluid Analyser, Drilling Expert, and

Bit Expert) collectively optimize drilling performance. DES was written in Basic

for lise on personal computers.

EXPROD was developed to make rod-pumping expertise available to field oper-

ations personnel (Foley a.nd Svinos, 1989). The Expert System was developed as a

companion to the surface and downhole analysis program SADA (Svinos and Ford.

18
198i). EXPROD has been continuously improved by the addition of new data as

verified field cases became available. To obtain maximum benefits, the user needs

to 1)(>
aware of uncertainties in the input data and also be familiar with a well's past

production history and with local operating practices, to be able to judge EXP-

PROD's diagnosis. The program is not designed to be a replacement for a human

expert but is intended to complement the skilled user. Field studies have sllown that

the expert system gives excellent results in more than 90% of the cases analysed.

EXPROD was written in Basic for a HP 9816 microcomputer.

ESDS is an expert system developed by Halliburton Services to assist in the

cement.slurry design process (Kulakofsky et al., 1993). ESDS provides the user with

recommendations for the best slurry design for a given set of pa.rameters. Several

alternatives are provided for each of the required input parameters so as to make

the system flexible a.nd truly useful in the field. The system was developed using the

NEXPERT OBJECT shell and conta.ins a. knowledge-base with almost 1,000 rules.

CHES is an Expert System written to, design casing strings, determine the

proper relationship between bit sizes and tubulars, and to calculate the bit-nozzle

sizes (Heinze, 1992). Casing accounts for approximately 18% of the completed well

costs. In the ten years from July 1978 to July 1988 approximately $35 Billion was

spent on tubulars (Anonymous, 1989). Consequently, optimizing casing design can

result in considerable savings. CHES was written using the LEVEL-5 expert system

shell and was designed to run on personal computers.

19
CASCADE is a support tool used to select shoe depth and to design casmg

in exploration and production wells (Mattiello and Sansone, 1992). CASCADE is

part of the .-\DIS project (Advanced Drilling Information System) which is a joint

venture involving AGIP, ENIDATA, and SAIPEM. ADIS is intended to provide

drilling f'ngillPpring software tools for well planning and drilling operations. support

at both the office and drill site, monitor operations in real-time and to diagnose

drilling problems. Expert Systems were developed to monitor operations such as on-

line pressure gradient forecasts, alarms monitoring, and management. The different

applications communicate via databases for both the real-time and off-line parts.

CASCADE was developed on UNIX workstations under the Xll/Motif window

manager.

TDAS (Tubular Design and Analysis System) is an Expert System that designs

and optimizes the casing string design based on both API load capacity performance

and von l\Iises equivalent stress intensity (Jellison and Kementich, 1990). The user

inputs general well information and tubular string design parameters. TDAS uses

the input data to construct a design model for each casing size in the string. The

design engineer can accept the recommended model or modify it, select an alter-

native model and/or add additional parameters. The system finalises the casing

string design. based on the model approved by the user. TDAS was implemented

in the C-Ianguage and the AI language CLIPS. Subsequently, a user-friendly inter-

face, TEX-AS, was developed to simplify the generation of TDAS design models

and reduce the amount of input data required.

20
at her expert systems reported in the literature include drill bit diagnosis (Are-

hart. 1990), drilling monitoring (Tabesh , 1991), cement slurry design (Simiem 1991),

SECOFOR (Courteille et al., 1983), and MDS (Dudleson et al., 1990) both used to

prevent and predict drill string washouts.

ivlVDSYS is an expert system that recommends drilling fluid systems, by ill-

terval , based on well conditions (Affleck and Zamora, 1987). The user is required

to answer questions on the environmental and operating conditions, in order to

determine the different situations in which any particular set of limitations would

influence the choice of mud systems. This is precisely the same logic a human expert

uses. i.e. the program only asks questions that remain relevant based on the infor-

mation already available. Affleck and Zamora (1987) wrote their own Expert System

shell XPRT to develop 1\;IUDSYS which contains 128 questions and approximately

6000 rules.

Other expert systems which assist in the design of the most appropriate mud sys-

tem include l\IUDMAN (Stark and Bergen, 198.5) and MUD (Kahn and McDermod,

198-1).

2.2.2 Well Stimulation

The two most common techniques used in well stimulation are matrix acidizing and

hydraulic fracturing. Each technique is appropriate under different circumstances.

Acidizing is used to chemically remove near wellbore damage. It is vital that the

correct chemicals are used in the treatment. Hydraulic fracturing is a technique.

21
usually used in low permeability reservoirs, in which an alternative, more permeable,

path is created for the reservoir fluids to flow to the wellbore. Acid treatments and

hydraulic fracture jobs are often based on experience and rules of thumb (heuristics);

and, as such, are ideal candidates for the application of expert system technology.

ACIDMAN is an expert system developed by ARCO Oil and Gas Company to

assist in the design of matrix acidizing treatments (Blackburn et al., 1990). The

user inputs information about the well, the type of damage, casing type, and reser-

voir parameters and the Expert" System recommends a treatment. Output from

t.he program includes acid selection, treatment volumes, appropriate additives, and

treatment technique. AClDMAN contains approximately 250 rules and runs on Per-

sonal Computers. NEXPERT OBJECT was used to construct the expert system

with the Windows software development kit TOOLBOOK used to construct the

user interface.

l\,tAST (l\lAtrix Stimulation Treatment) is an expert system developed to op-

timize damage diagnosis and matrix treatment design (Matteini et al., 1990). It

performs three major tasks: context evaluation, damage diagnosis a.nd stimulation

design. Context evalua.tion is used to obtain technical and economic information

from the damage diagnoses and the stimulation design so as to evaluate stimulation

opportunities. Program output includes technical and economic feasibility analyses,

formation damage diagnoses, matrix stimulation design, quality control, well site

opera tions control. and technical staff training. In 1990, MAST was still in the

development and prototype stages.

22
011wr matrix acidizing expert systems mentioned in the literature include Acid

Expert (Chiu et al., 1993), MAX (Matrix Acidizing eXpert system) (Chiu et al.,

1!J9:l), and a system developed by Cram et al., (1986).

Xiong (1992) developed an expert system called STIMEX to assist engineers

ill select ing tile optimum stimulation treatment (matrix acidizing, acid fracturing

and hydraulic fracturing). STIMEX provides recommendations about a specific well

stimulation treatment and an optimum treatment design. STIMEX was developed

using the KAPPA-PC shell and runs on personal computers. STIMEX is being

commercially marketed by Holditch and Associates.

2.2.3 Miscellaneous Expert Systems

Al-Kaahi et al., (1990) constructed an expert system that identifies the well test

interpretation that best describes the behaviour of a reservoir. The Expert System

allows the inexperienced or non-expert to analyse a transient well test using rea-

soning processes similar to those used by human experts. The user inputs pressure

versus time data, rate data, fluid and rock properties, and test and fluid types. The

Expert System performs three basic tasks. Firstly, it differentiates the test data

into early. middle, and late time regions. Secondly, it finds the appropriate well

interpretation model. Thirdly, it uses a history matching approach to validate the

interpretation model. The Expert System was formulated as a blackboard architec-

t ure using the object-oriented programming language HYPER-TALK.

UTINPUT is an expert system that was developed to prepare input data sets

23
to design miscible gas floods with the compositional simulator UTCOMP (Khan et

al., 199:3). Input data sets for compositional simulators require a large number of

input parameters, that describe the petroleum reservoir using an appropriate model,

and are very time consuming to prepa.re. A new user is required to go through a

large number of input parameters to determine their usage and significance. The

user then discards the parameters not relevant to the current case and determines

appropriate values for the required parameters. UTINPUT is interactive, querying

the user and eliminating irrelevant questions based on the answers given by the

user. UTINPUT was constructed using the NEXPERT OBJECT shell and runs on

workstat ions.

Damron et al., (1989) developed an expert system called WELLSAFE to plan

and monitor well kill activities. Wrong decisions are sometimes made during the

killing of a well. The mistakes may be a result of fatigue, fear, or a misunderstanding

of the procedural instructions on the part of the persons attempting to control the

kill. Errors made during the kill process can have catastrophic results so calm and

rapid responses by rig personnel are vital to maintain control of the well. The expert

system was developed to assist inexperienced rig personnel by providing a source of

expert knowledge as well as a training tool.

Vitthal et aI., (1989) developed an expert system to measure the susceptibility of

a reservoir to damage caused by clay swelling and migration. The program uses data

from thin sections, clay mixture properties, scanning electron microscope analyses

of core samples, and the depositional/diagenetic history of the reservoir, to predict

:24
clay properties and distribution in the reservoir.

SSA (Shaly Sand Advisor) is an expert system designed to help engineers analyse

well logs from shaly-sand formations (Walsh et al., 1993). Analysing well-logs from

shaly-sand formations can be confusing and frustrating. The authors developed an

app licat ion Ihat leads the user through an analysis based on available datil. The

program allows users to include their own calculations as many published shaly-

sand-analysis models are available. Flexibility is required as available data varies

from well to well. SSA was written for IBM-PC compatible computers to run under

DOS.

2.3 Need for this Expert System

From the literature review it is clear that there are fertile areas in the petroleum

industry to which the application of expert system technology has not been fully

explored. One such area is well stimulation by hydraulic fracturing. The limited

number of applications in this area is probably due to the complexity and scope of the

problem domain. As will be demonstrated in the following chapter, the permutations

of input variables is essentially unlimited. Consequently, the situations that need to

be investigated is extremely large.

Given the vastness of the problem domain, any expert system application in-

tended to cover the entire field in any depth would require a massive knowledge-base.

In fact, to select the most appropriate types and quantities of fracturing fluids and

25
additives would probably require many hundreds of rules. Expert systems are best

applied to narrow problem domains. Having demonstrated the dearth of applica-

tions in hydraulic fracturing and the impracticability of covering the entire domain

in detail, it is clear that there is a need for an expert system that advises the user in

gPllf'ral terms about the best numerical model, proppant type, and fracturing fl"id

to lise. In addition, given the limited number of personnel with a background in

hydraulic fracturing, it would also be desirable to construct an expert system that

focused on the explanation facilities. i.e. one in which the relevance, meaning, and

average values, of each of the input parameters is explained in detail.

The expert system developed here combines a set of general recommendations

about the numerical model, the type of proppant and fracturing fluid with a detailed

explanation of the hydraulic fracturing process and the reasoning process used in

the decision making process. In addition the current expert system allows the user

to interface with any fracture design programs they may have.

26
Chapter 3

Design of Hydcaulic Fracture

Treatments

3.1 Introduction

The oil and gas industry spends many millions of dollars annually on hydraulic frac-

ture stimulation treatments. Most of these are not optimized in terms of production

as realistic values have not been determined for many of the critical variables.

The critical variables required to optimize fracture treatments can be placed in

three categories (Warembourg et al., 1985):

1. Reservoir and producing system variables determining the production response

from the well.

2. Stimulation design variables determining the achievable fracture geometry.

27
:L Economic variables determining the optimum treatment.

The specific variables in each category are given in Warembourg et aI., (1985). This

chapter concentrates on items (2) and (3).

The optimization process assumes that the design parameters will be achieved;

if not, better values for the critical variables at least minimise the risk.

In the following section, the selection of potential candidates for stimulation is

discussed. Subsequent sections discuss the selection of the fracture design model,

fracturing fluid type, and proppant type. finally, the economics of fracturing is

discussed briefly.

3.2 Selection of Appropriate Wells

For a hydraulic fracture treatment to be considered successful, the gas or oil must be

produced at a higher rate than before the treatment. Obviously, for this to occur the

reservoir must have sufficient fluids in place. In addition, the potential gradients

must he sufficient to move the fluids to the well bore when the fracture has been

created (Howard and Fast, 19iO).

To determine whether a well is a suitable candidate for fracturing, the reason

for the low production must first be determined. Low productivity may result from

0111" or more of the following conditions (Howard and Fast, 19iO):

1. Severe near-wellbore permeability reduction which can result in an uneconomic

well even though there is a substantial amount of recoverable oil available.

28
Near wellbore damage can be removed by matrix acidising or by the creation

of short, wide, hydraulic fractures which by-pass the damaged zone.

~. The formation permeability is too low for oil/gas to be removed econorru-

cally, Large increases in production can be achieved by the creation of deeply-

penetrating fractures.

3. Insufficient reservoir pressure. Hydraulic fracturing is generally not successful

under such circumstances.

The reasons for low productivity can be determined from pressure build-up tests

(Howard and Fast, 1970).

The general criteria for selecting wells to be fractured are (Howard and Fast,

1970):

1. State of depletion of the reservoir. If a formation is depleted of energy, fractur-

ing will not, generally, increase production sufficiently to justify the treatment.

Fracturing is most successful if used early-on in the life of a reservoir. How-

ever, successful treatments have been performed in old, low pressure, fields

where fracturing enhances gravity drainage rates.

2. Formation permeability. As the formation permeability approaches the frac-

ture permeability, the possible increase in production approaches zero. Thus,

the percentage production increase is higher for low permeability reservoirs

than for high permeability reservoirs.

29
:3. Previous stimulation treatments. Improvements in technology have meant that

previously stimulated formations can be successfully re-treated. Wells which

experienced production increases from small fracture treatments or have been

acidised are good candidates.

-L Well production history. Wells with relatively flat or steep production decline

curves are good candidates for fracturing. Relatively flat decline curves indi-

cate that the well is draining a large area and that the drainage rate can be

increased by increasing the near wellbore permeability. Conversely, a steep

decline curve indicates that the well may be draining a small area and that

the production rate may be increased hy increasing the drainage radius.

5. Offset production history. If a well produces at a lesser rate than offset wells

ill the same field, than stimulation will result in a larger production increase

than from other wells in the field.

6. Location of water-oil and gas-oil contacts. Creating or extending fractures into

water or gas hearing zones will increase the water-oil or gas-oil ratio without

improving the production. A commonly used rule of thumb for formations

containing water cont.acts is to use a radial fracture design with a fracture

radius of half the distance between the bottom perforation and the water

contact.

7. Fracture confinement. For a fracture treatment to be successful, the fracture

30
has to be confined to the producing zone. If the minimum horizontal st ress

component {for vertical fractures} are the same, or only slightly greater. in the

adjacent zones than in the target zone, the fracture will propagate out of Ihe

zone. Clearly, this is undesirable and uneconomic. Similar arguments apply

to variations in the fracture toughness and rock stiffness.

8. Degree of consolidation. Until relatively recently unconsolidated, or poorly

consolidated, formations were not considered to be good candidates for frac-

ture treatments. However, in recent years, unconsolidated formations have

been successfully fractured,notably in the Gulf of Mexico (Monus et al., 1992,

Wong et al., 1993). Nowadays, degree of consolidation is not a major consid-

eration when selecting suitable wells.

3.3 Model Selection

Selection of the most appropriate fracture design model is a very important process.

The commonly used models can be classified, in order of decreasing sophistication,

into fully three-dimensional, pseudo-three-dimensional, and two-dimensional mod-

els. :\105t of these are formulated in terms of linear elasticity. More sophisticated

models, utilising concepts such as poro- and viscoelasticity, have been developed but

these are still predominantly research tools and are rarely used to design fracture

treatments. Obviously, the more sophisticated the model the more input pararne-

t.ers are required and the less room for error. In addition, some numerical models
are very sensitive to variations in input parameters, so the output can he rendered

useless by poorly constrained input.

The model selected can have a significant impact on the economic analysis of the

fracture treatment. Different assumptions behind each model results in a different

fracture geometry being predicted, and thus different quantities of fracturing fluids

and proppants. Table 3.1 shows , for example, the differences in geometry and

materials requirements for the two-dimensional PKN and GDK models if identical

input parameters are used. The input parameters used were:

volume of fracturing fluid, 200,000 BBL,

pump rate, 10 BBL/min,

fracture height. 100 ft,

fluid-loss coefficient, 0.0015 jt/mint,

spurt loss, 0.01 gal/ft2,

flow behaviour index, 0.63,

consistency index, 0.0044Ib sn' / ft2,

Poisson's ratio, 0.15, and,

shear modulus, 2.6 x 106psi.

32
Parameter GDK model PKN model
Created fracture length (ft) 698 845
Created fracture width (in) 0.22 0.16
Total amount of sand (Ibm) 157,500 51,000
Average sand concentration (lb/gal) :3 3.5
Pad volume (SBL) 750 1650
Proppant laden fluid volume (SBL) 1250 3.50

Table 3.1 - Comparison of fracture design calculations for different fracturing

models (adapted from Geertsma and Haafkens, 1979).

From table 3.1 it can be seen that the CDK model predicts shorter, wider fractures

than does the PKN model thus requiring significantly more sand. Such differences

can be significant when an economic analysis is being performed on the viability of

fracturing the formation. This is especially so, for larger treatments. The longer

PKN fracture length means a greater fracture surface area for t.he reservoir fluids

t.o flow through. The greater width of the CDI< model means a greater fracture

conductivity, meaning fluids can flow more easily to the wellbore. From parametric

studies, Meng (1989) found that the stimulation requirements and production per-

forrnances were similar for short fractures, for both the PKN and CDK models, and

that the differences became significant as fracture length increases.

This section briefly discusses the commonly used fracture design models. A

number of computer models have been developed, many of which are proprietary,

but a comprehensive discussion of fracture modelling technology is beyond the scope

of th is thesis.
3.3.1 Three-dimensional models

Fully three-dimensional models simulate arbitrary fracture geometries, out-of-plane

propagation and include vertical variations in fluid flow. Three-dimensional models

are difficult to formulate mathematically and are computationally expensive.

The general procedure is to sub-divide the fracture into discrete elements and to
,
solve the governing equations for each element; consisting of (Clifton, 1989):

1. Elasticity equations relating the pressure on the fracture face to the fracture

opening.

2. Fluid flow equations relating the flow In the fracture to the fluid pressure

gradients.

:J. A fracture criterion.

These equations are usually solved using boundary element or finite element tech-

niques.

Three-dimensional models require that the in-situ stresses in the target and

bounding formations be known. In addition, the fracture toughness, leakoff cod-

ficients, spurt-loss coefficients, and elastic moduli must be known in the bounding

format.ions as well as in the target forma.tion.


50ft

Figure 3.1: Example width calculations for a three layer case (adapted from Warpin-
ski and Smith 1989).
s!reA (pal)

Figure 3.2: Example width calculations for a seven layer case (adapted from Warpin-
ski and Smith 1989).

35
500 psi
c: -4820
200 psi

~ 50 psi
:e
Q)
> -5060

-5180

-5300~------~--------~------~--------~------~
'0 120 240 360 480 600
fracture length (tt)
Figure 3.3: Fracture vertical growth for various stress contrasts (after Ben-Naceur
1989).
25 25 25 -r--------,
20 20 20
15 15
10 10 10
5 5
:E
C)
0 o o
~ -5 -5 -5
-10 -10 -10
-15 -15 -15
-20 -20 -20
Ep/Eb= 0.1 Ep/Eb=1 Ep/Eb= 10
-25 -'-T'""T"T-r;"";O-T'""T" .-I -25 -'-T'""T"T-r"""_T"T--"-'..-'
......... -25 _,_r-r',...,......,..r-r...,...., ......
-0.25 0.25 -0.25 0.25 -0.25 0.25
Width (in)

Ep:::Young's modulus of barrier.


Eb::: Young's modulus of pay zone.
Figure 3.4: Fracture width profile at the wellbore for different modulus contrasts
(after Mukherjee and Morales 1992).
The variation of in-situ stresses is the major factor in fracture containment. The

fracture will remain in the target formation if the least principal stress is much higher

in t.he bounding layers than in the target layer. Conversely, if the stress gradient is

small then fracture containment may be difficult. The effect of stress contrasts on

the fracture width is shown for three-layer and a seven-layer case is shown in figures

:3.1 and :3.2, respectively. The effect of stress contrast on fracture height is shown

in figure 3.3. Higher elastic moduli (Young's modulus) in the bounding layer can

inhibit fracture growth but in general cannot halt the fracture. The effect of the

contrast in Young's modulus, on the fracture width, between the pay zone and a

barrier is shown in figure 3.4. Similarly, higher fracture toughness in the bounding

layers can also inhibit fracture growth. When the fracture grows into a layer with a

relatively high fluid loss, propagation through the zone may be retarded.

3.3.2 Pseudo-three-dimensional models

Pseudo-three-dimensional models are essentially the same as the PKN model except

that the fracture height can vary with time and distance from the wellbore. The

primary assumption is that the fracture length is greater than its height. The major

difference from two-dimensional models is the inclusion of a vertical fluid flow term

(Ben-Naceur , 1989). Pseudo-three-dimensional models, in general, require the same

input parameters as fully three-dimensional models but are computationally less

expensive as they cannot model out-of-plane propagation.

Pseudo-three-dimensional models are probably the most widely used category.

:17
True three-dimensional models can be difficult to use and require great care ill

parameter selection in order to avoid numerical instabilities. To obtain acceptable

results. parametric studies are often required in order to optimize the element size.

Special care must be taken at stress boundaries where is has been found that element

size can have a profound effect on numerical stability, and thus solution time (Weng,

pel's. comm.). For more sophisticated problems, it may take several days to obtain

a satisfactory solution. In contrast, pseudo-three-dimensional models can arrive at

a solution in a matter of minutes, usually with a marginal loss of accuracy. Two-

dimensional models are limited by their inability to model fracture height growth.

In general, pseudo-three-dimensional models are quick and easy to use, and provide

sufficiently accurate results in most circumstances (Hainey, pers. comm.). In the

limiting cases of infinite and no stress boundaries, the pseudo-three-dimensional

formulation is identical to the PKN and radial model formulations, respectively.

3.3.3 Two-dimensional models

Two-dimensional models arose, in the early 1960's, from the need to have closed-

form solutions to complex solid and fluid mechanics interactions (Geerstma, 1989).

At that time the computational power required for three-dimensional models was

not readily accessible to petroleum engineers. Even with the emergence of three-

dimensional models, two-dimensional models are still widely used in the petroleum

industry.

Two-dimensional models require that the plane of propagation be specified HI

38
advance. In addition the following assumptions are usually made;

1. Plane strain conditions.

2. Constant injection rate.

:3. Constant fluid properties.

4. No toughness,

There are three commonly used two-dimensional models, PKN, GDK, and radial;

they have a. number of mathematical similarities and will be discussed briefly below.

The equation for fracture length is the same for each model and is given by equations

A.42 and A.43 in Appendix A.

PKN model

The PKN model simulates linear vertical fracture propagation making the following

assumptions (Geertsma, 1989):

l. Fracture height is fixed and is independent of fracture length.

2. Fracturing fluid pressure is constant in the vertical plane perpendicular to the

direction of propagation.

:3. Each vertical section deforms independently.

4. Each vertical cross-section attains an elliptical shape with the maximum widt.h

at the centre.
.5. The fluid pressure gradient in the direction of propagation is determined by

the flow resistance in a narrow channel.

6. The fluid pressure in the fracture decreases towards the tip so that, at the tip,

the fluid pressure equals the minimum horizontal stress.

The geometry modelled by the PKN model is shown in figure 3.5. To determine
,
the fracture width as a function of time and position, the solid mechanics equations

must be coupled to the fluid flow equations in the fracture. It is assumed that:

The flow is 1- D isothermal.

The flow is laminar.

For a Newtonian fluid, the width at the wellbore, for a two sided fracture, is given

by:

/lQL, ] t
Ww = 3.00 [ (1 _ y2)3

where fl is the fracturing fluid viscosity, L, is the fracture length, Y IS Poisson's

ratio, E is Young's modulus, and Q is the pumping rate. The derivation of this

equation, and the equation for fracture length as a function of time are shown in

Appendix A. The fracture width as a function of position, x, along the fracture is

given by:

(3.2)

For a power law fluid, equation (3.1) becomes:

40
128
~V'"= [ -3-(n + 1)
1
] 2(n+1) [3 Q]
. -H
n
2(n+1)
.
[, 2n + 1
A (--)
n (1 _
E
//2)
HILI
1
] 2(n+1)
(3.3)
.1i I 3n

Where 11 is the flow behaviour index and K is the consistency index.

41
Figure 3.5: A schematic representation of the PKN model geometry.

h,

Figure 3.6: A schematic representation of the GDK model geometry.

42
GDK model

The assumptions behind the GDK model are:

1. Plane strain in the horizontal plane.

2. Each horizontal plane deforms independently.

3. The fracture height is constant and fixed.

4. The fluid pressure in the propagation direction is determined by the flow resis-

tance in a narrow rectangular slit of variable width, in the vertical direction.

This means that the height is much greater than the length .

.5. The closing of the fracture is described by Barenblatt's condition; i.e.

6. The rock has no tensile strength.

The geometry modelled by the GDK model is shown in figure :3.6.

The fracture length at the wellbore, for a two sided fracture, is given by:
1
(1 - v2)pQL}] 4"
W,....= 2.27 [ EH/ (:3.4)

The derivation of this equation is given in Appendix A. The fracture width as a

function of position, x, along the fracture is given by:

W = W". [1- (;/ ) 2


r
1

(:Li)

43
Radial model

Radial fractures propagate outwards from a point source as a series of concentric

circles. At any time the distance from the source to the fracture front is a constant,

R. Radial fracture propagation can be modelled by both the PKN and GDK models.

They differ only in the assumed pressure distribution (Geertsma, 1989). In the

PKN model, the pressure at the fracture tip is assumed equal to the in-situ stress

perpendicular to the fracture plane. In the GDK model, the pressure is reduced to

zero at a distance r = Ro from the wellbore, where Ro is a value close to the actual

fracture radius.

The width of the fracture at the wellbore is given by:

(:Hi)

where R is the fracture radius and B = 1.4 for the PKN model and 2.15 for the

GDK model. The fracture width as a function of position, r, along the fracture is

given by:

W{r) = WI.)1 - ~ (3.7)

3.3.4 Two-dimensional model selection

The choice of t.he appropriate two-dimensional model is a controversial issue in

the petroleum industry. Each model (PKN and GDK) has its devoted adherents,

although there are some who claim that both these models are incorrectly formulated

(e.g. Cleary et al., 1991). The applicability of a particular model is often determined

44
by the match between the predicted and observed variation of pressure with time

(if data from previous fracture treatments is available). Good matches have been

obtained. in the field, for both models, although agreement may be fortuitous in

many cases.

Daneshy (1976) modelled constant height hydraulic fractures in the laborat.ory.

It was found that, if stiff barriers were bonded to the rock then, the borehole-pressure

increased with time and length as predicted by the PKN model. If soft barriers were

used, the borehole pressure decreased with time and length as predicted by the GDK

model.

In essence, both models have been found to accurately predict pressure variations

in the field making the selection of the most appropriate model confusing. Never-

theless, there is consensus that the GDK model is more appropriate for situations in

which the fracture height is much greater than the fracture length and that the PKN

model is appropriate when the fracture length is much less than the fracture height

(Geertsma and Haafkens, 1979). The radial model is appropriate when the fracture

height is approximately twice the fracture radius. This occurs when the fracture

propagates from a point source of injection. The approximate range of application

was determined to be (Nolte and Economides, 1989):

2Lj > 3Hj PKN model (3.8)

2Lj < O.3Hj GDK model (3.9)

45
Radial model (3.10)

The radial model can also be used in the intermediate case between the limiting

cases of the PKN and GDK models.

3.4 Proppant Selection

Ideally, hydraulic fracture design should be a mixture of computer simulation and

field experience. The cost of a fracturing job is composed of manpower, machin-

ery, and material costs. Proppant expenses can account for up to two thirds of

the total treatment cost (Mader, 1989). Optimizing the proppant selection is an

crucial part of the fracture design process if financial returns are to be maximised.

Traditionally, proppant selection has been performed using type-curves and evalu-

ation of proppant characteristics. Recently, several computer programs that assist

in proppant selection have appeared on the market (Mader, 1989). These are based

on a type-curve-like analysis (Agarwal et aI., 1979) and evaluate the economic feasi-

bility of proppant investment versus the enhanced post-fracture production for any

proppant type (e.g. Cobb, 1986; Anderson and Phillips, 1986, 1987).

Long-term productivity in low permeability reservoirs is dependent on the frac-

ture penetration and the fracture conductivity (the product of proppant permeabil-

ity and fracture width). Fracture conductivity is a function of several variables,

including (Montgomery and Steanson, 1985):

1. Proppant properties (strength, roundness, and fines content).

46
2. Closure stress.

:3. Formation properties (e.g. proppant embedment conditions).

4. Drawdown rate.

5. Propped fracture width.

Clearly, proppants are selected using both engineering and economic criteria.

Firstly, engineering criteria should be employed to determine several possible op-

tions. Economic criteria should then be utilised to determine the most feasible

proppant.

Four factors control the improvement in production resulting from a fracture

treatment. These are (Montgomery and Steanson, 1985):

1. The propped fracture area which is the only area contributing to the increased

production. The fracture area (per wing) is given by Ap = 2Lp x Hp where Lp

and Hp are the propped fracture length and height, respectively.

2. The fracture conductivity (mD . Jt) which is a measure of how easily the

produced fluids flow through the propped fracture.

:3. Reservoir permeability, used to determine the fracture conductivity required to

effectively utilise the proposed fracture penetration. The length of the fracture

required is inversely proportional to the reservoir permeability.

4. The drainage ratio, needed to ascertain the fracture length needed. For large

well spacings and low reservoir permeabilities, a long fracture is required.

47
In low permeability reservoirs, the development of deeply penetrating fractures

with sufficient conductivity is important. Once the reservoir permeability is known,

the fracture length and conductivity are optimized by comparing treatment cost to

expected production. If the fracture is not sufficiently conductive, then production

will be limited. Conversely, excessive fracture conductivity is not effective. The

appropriate fracture length for a given reservoir permeability can be estimated from

figure 3.7. If the fracture conductivity is sufficient, then the longer the fracture the

higher the producing rate.

Figure 3.8 shows the effect of fracture half length on production in terms of di-

mensionless variables. This plot was generated using a reservoir simulator (Agarwal

et al., 1979). Dimensionless time is given by:

(:3.11)

where I\j is the fracture permeability, t is the producing time, is the formation

porosity, Ct is the total system compressibility, /l is the fluid viscosity, and Lf is the

fracture half-length. The dimensionless production rate is given by:

1 f{h~P
qD
= 141.2q/lB
for oil (:3.12)

J(h~(M(p))
qD
= 1424qT
for gas (3.13)

where /{ is the formation permeability, h is the formation net pay, b.p is the pressure

drop, A/(p) is the real gas pseudo-pressure, q is the flow rate, T is the formation

48
'"0
-.-

s..,:
Q
c:
_,G
I
::
<U
X
...~
Q)

-(J
...
<U
u..
0

Extremel, ve,., Ntlr


Tlgh' Tight Tighl Ttghl Conventional

md 0.0001 1.0 100.0

~-darcies 0.1 1 5 10 100 1.000 10,000 100.000


In-Situ GasPermeability

Figure 3.7: Desired fracture half-lengths for different formation permeabilities (after
Elkins, 1980).

49
1~
10~--------------------------------~
DIMENSIONLESS
ui
... FRACTURE CAPACITY
II:
I/)
I/)
w~
Z
o
I/)
z
-.1
qgD
kh~
141.2q,..a
w
2
-o
10'
-.1

qgO
kh~2)
1.424q.IIZT
~

o
o
-.1
qgO
khf~)1
1.424q. T
II: 2.63" 10..,
c,
(3 '0 o;.J,C,L,2
W
II: k,w
C .... -
00' kL,

,
DIMENSIONLESS TIME. to

Figure 3.8: Log-log type-curves for finite capacity vertical fractures-constant well-
bore pressure (after Agarwal et al., 1979).

50
temperature. The dimensionless fracture capacity is given by:

(3.14)

where b is the fracture width, and [\p is the proppant permeability. Equation 3.14 is

the key to optimizing the fracture conductivity and half-length with the formation

permeability (e.g. Montgomery and Steanson, 1985). The formation permeability

is fixed. Proppant permeability is a function of closure stress, proppant size, prop-

pant composition, and proppant quality. The fracture width is a function of closure

stress, volume of proppant within the fracture, proppant strength, and formation

hardness and strength. The proppant should have a Young's modulus similar to that

of the formation. If the formation is too high, proppant grain crushing will occur,

reducing the fracture conductivity. Conversely, if the proppant is much harder than

the formation then the grains will be embedded in the formation, reducing the frac-

t ure width and thus the fracture conductivity. The fracture length is optimized by

varying the fracture conductivity and keeping the fracture in the target zone. From

figure :3.8 it can be seen that there is very little difference in well performance for

fracture ca.pa.cities greater than 10 for dimensionless times greater than 0.1. Mont-

gornery and Steanson (1985) present an example, using typical reservoir parameters,

which shows that the production performance is essentially the same after 209 days

for dimensionless conductivities from 10 to 500. Thus, in many cases the additional

expense involved in maximising the fracture capacity is not worthwhile. Hence, the

fracture should be optimized for a fracture capacity of 10 (e.g. Montgomery and

51
Steanson, 1985). As the fracture length increases, the fracture conductivity must Ill'

increased to keep the fracture capacity at 10. Fracture conductivities are normally

calculated by assuming a fracture width based on the proppant mass per square foot

for fracture area multiplied by the measured proppant permeability at a given clo-

sure stress. Proppant permeabilities are measured as a function of closure stress, for

all proppant types and sizes, in the laboratory, The closure stress is the difference

between the stress required to open the fracture and the bottom hole producing

pressure. The closure stress acts to close the fracture. Thus proppant permeability

is inversely proportional to closure stress. The closure stress is given by:

(3.15)

where O'c is the closure stress, 91 is the fracture gradient, D is the depth, and

PBHP is the bottom hole producing pressure. The fracture gradient is most easily

determined from pressure records of fracture rate injections into adjacent wells in

the same reservoir. When pumping ceases the fracture gradient is the instantaneous

bottomhole shut-in pressure divided by depth. i.e.

PISlP
91 = -- (:3.1(j)
D

where PISlP is the instantaneous-shut-in pressure. It is common to perform a

rninifracture treatment before the normal treatment to ascertain parameters such as

the fracture gradient. The above expressions assume that the rock is linear elastic

and that the vertical stress gradient is constant.


If the proppant is not strong enough to withstand the closure stress then the

grains will crush, thus reducing the fracture conductivity. The proppant cost is

proportional to its strength, so that using an excessively strong proppant would

be wasteful. The proppant should also be matched with the mechanical properties

of the formation. If the Young's modulus of the proppant is much higher than

that of the formation then the grains will become embedded in the fracture wall.

Conversely, if the Young's modulus of the formation is much higher then crushing

of the proppant grains will occur:

Field experience has shown that it is difficult to achieve a propped fracture width

greater than 0.25 inches especially at greater depth (Montgomery and St.eanson,

1985). A good rule of thumb is to initially assume a propped fracture width of 0.1

inches (Montgomery and Steanson, 1985). The width can be varied to allow for

increased conductivities if so desired. If the proppant permeability is known then

the fracture width can be calculated from equation 3.14.

Proppant types

There are a number of different proppant types available. Some of the more suc-

cessful and popular propping agents include sand, resin coated sand, intermediate

strength proppant (ISP) ceramics, and high strength proppants such as sintered

bauxite and zirconium oxide (Constien, 1989).

Sand is by far the most popular propping agent in the U.S.A. due to it's low

cost, and ability to perform satisfactorily under a wide range of conditions. In deeper

53
wells. where the closure stresses are higher, intermediate and high strength proppant

are more appropriate. The commonly used criteria for selection of proppant type is

fie < 6,OOOpsi Sand

.J,OOOpsi < fie < 10,000psi ISP

fie > 10,000psi High strength proppant

Proppant permeability is a function of closure stress so that the proppant selected

must have a permeability equal or greater than that calculated from equation 3.14

for a given closure stress. Figure 3.9 shows that there is a significant degradation

of proppant permeability with time. Thus the selected proppant should have a per-

meability 2-:3 times that calculated from equation 3.14 (Montgomery and Steanson ,

l!)S5 ).

The proppant selection process

The following steps are taken to select the most appropriate proppant for a given

fracture treatment.

L. Select appropriate fracture length from figure 3.7 (knowing formation perme-

ability).

2. Calculate closure stress.

:1. Select appropriate proppant type (sand, (SP. or high strength) .

.54
4. Estimate fracture width.

5. Calculate proppant permeability from equation (:3.14) assuming a dimension-

less fracture capacity of 10.

6. Select the most economic proppant from those meeting the minimum per me-

ability criteria calculated in step 5. The permeability degradation with


, time
should be taken into account.

.55
>- A 20/40 Sand. 75F
t: B 10/20 Sand. 2SO"F
2:
~
0 80
:::l 5.000 PSI Closure Stress
0
Z
0
o 66
~ A
4(
z B
aa: 40

.,.
0

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
TIME. months

Figure 3.9: Percentage of original conductivity vs. time (after Montgomery and
Steanson, 1985).

56
Proppant scheduling

Proppants are placed in the fracture to hold the fracture open, providing a highly

permeable path for the fluid to flow to the well bore. Increasing the well productivity

is dependent on the fracture conductivity and propped fracture geometry at the end

of the treatment. Thus it is important to design the fracture treatment so as to

maximise the proppant concentration at the end of the treatment. Nolte (1984)

devised a method of determining the optimum pad volume and proppant schedule,

based on the fluid efficiency 1.

The optimum pad volume is given by:

(3.17)

where qinj is the injection rate (BBL/min), tinj is the injection time (min), tpad IS

the pumping time for the pad fluid, and

f -
_ tpad _
-
[I + Jp +4IX:(k
.
-1)]2
p.1S)
tinj 2k

(:3.19)

X: = 1 +0.1781 x I (:1.20)

where f; f is the fluid efficiency.

The proppant concentration as a function of time can be calculated from:

I Fluid efficiency is defined as the ratio of fracture volume to injected volume and, ranges between
o (complete leakoff) and 1 (no leakoff').

57
(3.21 )

where Cp is the slurry concentration at time t, and Cf is the desired slurry concen-

t ration in the fracture at the end of the treatment.

The procedure to calculate the proppant schedule is as follows:

C], '1inj, and ef are known and tinj can be chosen arbitrarily.

1. Calculate I, knowing ef.

2. Calculate k, knowing I.

:3. Calculate f, knowing k and I.

4. Calculate tpad, knowing tinj and f.

5. Calculate Vp, knowing qinj and tpad.

(j. Calculate Gp( t) at the desired times.

3.5 Fracturing fluid selection

Fracturing fluids are used to create and propagate the fracture and to distribute the

proppant. For the stimulation to be successful, the fracturing fluid must possess the

following characteristics (Ely, 1989a):

1. be compatible with the formation material.

2. be compatible with the formation fluids.

58
3. he capable of suspending proppants and transporting them deep into the Irac-

ture.

.1. he capa ble of developing the necessary fracture width to accept proppants.

5. have low fluid loss.

6. be easy to remove from the formation when the treatment is complete; i.e. it

should be easy to "break" and should leave little residue.

7. have low friction properties.

8. be easy to prepare in the field.

9. retain its viscosity throughout the treatment.

10. be cost effective.

Compatibility with the formation material is the most important characteristic. If

the chemistry of the fluid causes clay swelling, blocking pores then the treatment will

he unsuccessful. Similarly, the treatment will fail if the fracturing fluid dissolves the

material cementing the grains together. If the fracturing fluid causes fines alld/ or

clays to migrate then the treatment will not be successful. Also, if the fracturing

fluid creates emulsions and/or sludging of the crude oil then plugging rather than

stimulation will occur (Ely, 1989a).

Another important characteristic of a fracturing fluid is its ability to transport

proppant from the surface through the perforations and deep into the fracture. The

59
fluid must be highly VISCOUS in order to create the necessary fracture width and

to transport the proppant. If the fluid is not sufficiently viscous then the created

fracture width will be too small to allow proppants to be transported far into the

fracture.

Ideally, a fracturing fluid must be moderately efficient, meaning that the pro-

portion lost to the formation is small. Fluid efficiency is normally achieved by the

addition of fluid loss additives to a highly viscous fluid. Common fluid loss additives

include, plastering agents, bridging agent, and microemulsions. If most of the fluid

leaks off into the formation then the fluid will be incapable of creating the desired

fracture geometry or of transporting the proppant.

A fracturing fluid must be capable of changing rapidly from high viscosity to

low viscosity once the treatment is complete. This is necessary so that the fluid can

be easily removed from the formation.The viscosity is normally removed by thermal

degradation, in high temperature wells, or by controlled fluid degradation. Breaking

agents such as enzymes, oxidisers, or weak acids are used in controlled degra.dation.

Low friction pressure is an important property. 1 the fluid cannot be pumped

easily down the tubulars then it is usually unacceptable as a fracturing fluid.

A fracturing fluid should also be capable of retaining its viscosity throughout t.he

treatment. If a fluid loses viscosity due to thermal thinning or shear degradation

then it cannot be used to fracture high temperature wells.

Ease of preparation in the field is a desirable quality as is cost effectiveness. A

fluid that has all of the above qualities but is not cost effective is not an ideal fluid.

60
3.5.1 Water-based fluids

Water-based fluids are used in the majority of fracturing treatments performed today

(Ely, l!)S9a). They have the following advantages over oil-based fluids.

1. They are economic. The base fluid is water which is much cheaper than oil,

condensate, alcohol, or acid.

2. Water-based fluids result in a higher hydrostatic head than oil based fluids.

3. They are non-flammable and thus not a fire hazard.

4. They are readily available .

.5. They are very easy to viscosify and control.

6. They are easy to dispose of when the treatment is completed. Water-based

fluids are more environmentally friendly than oil-based fluids.

Linear fluids

Linear gels are relatively simple fluids to use and control. There is a wealth of lab-

oratory data available on their rheological properties (Ely, 1989a). Linear gels are

ideal for damage removal treatments or for banking-type proppant packs needed to

achieve high fracture conductivity near the well bore. The problem with linear gels

is their poor proppant suspension capability. In addition they have less tempera-

ture stability than do similar crosslinked fluids (e.g. Holtmyer and Githens, 1970).

61
Higher viscosity crosslinked fluids are used in preference to linear fluids for larger

stimulation treatments.

Examples of linear fluids include guar , HPG (hydroxypropyl guar}, HEC (hy-

droxyet.hylcellulose}, and CMHPG (carboxymethylhydroxypropyl guar). Guar is a

natu rally occurring polymer which hydrates upon contact with water creating a

viscous f uid. HPG is the most widely used viscosifier for water-based fracturing

treatments (Githens and Burnham, 1977). It has a higher viscosity and is more

temperature stable than guar. CMHPG is also a derivative of guar that is used only

in crosslinked gel treatments. HEC is mainly used in gravel pack applications where

a high viscosity fluid that leaves little residue is required.

Crosslinked fluids

Crosslinking is a process whereby the molecular weight of the base polymer is sig-

nificantly increased by connecting the polymer molecules into a structure through

metal or metal chelate crosslinkers. Crosslinking increases the apparent viscosity

by several orders of magnitude and tends to increase the temperature stability of

the base polymer. This procedure does not significantly increase friction pressllfes

while pumping. It is not clear why this is the case.

HPG systems undergo severe degradation if the fluid is crosslinked at the surface

and pumped at high rates. As a result these systems have been replaced by delayed

crosslinked fracture fluid systems.

62
Delayed crosslinked fluids

Delayed crosslinked fluids are those in which the crosslin king occurs at a pre-

determined time. i.e. the crosslinking does not occur at t.he surface. These fluids

allow better dispersion of the crosslinker, higher viscosity, and improved tempera-

t.ure stability than conventional crosslinked fluids. In addition the lower viscosity in

the tubulars results in lower pumping friction.

The main advantages of crosslinked fluids over linear fluids are (Ely, 1989a):

1. A much higher viscosity IS achievable in the fracture with comparable gel

loading.

2. The system is more efficient with respect to fluid loss control.

:3. Crosslinked fluids have better proppant transport characteristics.

4. Crosslinked fluids have better temperature stability characteristics .

.5. Crosslinked fluids are more cost effective per pound of polymer.

If deep proppant penetration into the fracture and high viscosity at high temperature

are required, then the best fluid is a zirconium or titanium delayed crosslinked system

(Ely, 1989a). For small, low pressure, low temperature zones, linear fluids may be

acceptable.

63
3.5.2 Oil-based fluids

Use of gelled hydrocarbons is appropriate when fracturing water-sensitive forma-

tions. Produced crude with a specific gravity greater than 0.85 can also be used to

fracture the format.ion.

The most commonly used oil-based fracturing fluids are aluminium phosphate

esters. These can be used to create high temperature stable fluids with good prop-

pant transport characteristics for use in wells where the bottom hole temperature

(BHT) exceeds 2600 F.

The major disadvantage of gelled oil systems is the fire hazard. Other disad-

vantages include the higher pumping friction, reduced hydrostatic head, and less

predictable temperature st.ability. Preparation of an oil-based fluid requires greater

care and quality control than do water-based fluids which are relatively simple to

prepare.

3.5.3 Alcohol-based fluids

Alcohol-based fluids are sometimes used to remove water blocks. Water blocks oc-

cur when the formation is damaged, reducing the permeability to gas. Such damage

may be due to clay swelling, precipitation of solids, or migration of released fines

(Holditch , 1979). Several polymers are available that can viscosity pure methanol

or isopropanol. Such polymers include HPG and HPC (hydroxypropylcellulose).

Alcohol-based fluids have several disadvantages including, danger of combustion,

64
danger of fume inhalation by personnel, and difficulty in breaking when the treat-

ment is complete. Consequently, oil-based fluids are preferred in water sensitive

formations. Use of methanol in water-based linear and crosslinked fluids is advan-

tageous for several reasons: miscibility with water, reduced surface tension, water

hlock removal, and compatibility with water sensitive formations.

3.5.4 Emulsion fluids

An emulsion is a mixture of oil and water. There are two basic type of emulsions, oil

external and water external. An oil external emulsion is a two-phase system where

oil is the continuous phase and water is emulsified into the oil. A water external

emulsion is one in which water is t.he continuous phase and oil is emulsified into the

water.

Emulsion-based fluids have been used for many years (Ely, 1989a). They are

highly viscous solutions with good proppant transport characteristics. The most

common fluid. known as "polyernulsion", is composed of 67% hydrocarbon internal

phase. and 33% viscosified brine external phase (Gulbis, 1989). The polymer con-

centration is generally 20 - 401b/ 1,000 gallons. This is from ~ to ~ the concentration

required for a standard water-based fluid. The emulsion is broken when the emulsi-

fier is adsorbed onto the formation rock. As smaller quantities of polymers are used,

emulsions cause less formation damage and clean up easily. Polyemulsions have high

friction pressures and thin significantly as the temperature increases. Thus their use

in hot wells is limited.

65
3.5.5 Foam fluids

Foam is a stable mixture of liquid and gas. Stability is attained through the use

of snrfact ants. The surfactant concentrates at the gas-liquid interface, lowering the

surface tension, thus stabilising the bubble surface and preventing coalescence.

Nitrogen (N2) and carbon dioxide (C02) are used as the energising gases. The

foam contains a pressurised gas that expands when the well is flowed back, forcing

liquid out of the fracture. Hence foams are excellent in low pressure reservoirs as

clean-up is enhanced.

Foams contain up to 95% gas by volume meaning that the liquid phase is min-

imal. Foaming a water-based fluid significantly decreases the amount of liquid in

contact with the formation. Hence, foams perform well in water sensitive forma-

tions. Foams have good proppant transport characteristics. However, the proppant

concentration is limited to approximately Slbm/gallon (Ely, 1989a). Foams provide

good fluid loss control in low permeability formations where the gas bubbles are

approximately the same size as the pores. Foams are described by their "quality"

which is the volume of gas as a percentage of the total volume. Below 52% the

foam is unstable as there are no bubble-bubble interactions to resist flow or gravity

separation (Mitchell, 1969). Above 95% the foam becomes a mist with gas being

the continuous phase (Gulbis, 1989).

Nitrogen is less dense than carbon dioxide which creates a denser foam. Thus,

lower surface treating pressures are required for CO2 foams due to the higher hy-

66
drost.at ic head in the well bore. Lower trear.ing pressures mean lower pumping costs.

However, CO2 is much more soluble in water and oil than N2 so more CO2 is re-

quired to saturate the liquid and create the foam. Thus, reductions in pumping

costs may be offset by increases in material costs. Presently, more treatments are

performed with N2 than with CO2 (Ely, 1989a).

Many liquids can be foamed including water, hydrocarbons, methanol, and

methanol/water mixes.

3.5.6 Additives

Early fracturing treatments contained only gasoline, napalm, and sand. Nowadays,

it is common for fracturing fluids to contain i or 8 additives (Ely, 1989a). Each ad-

ditive has a specific function and it is vital that they are compatible with each other.

The additives perform such functions as, p H adjustment, bacteria control, irnprov-

ing high temperature stability, breaking the fluid on job completion, mmirrusing

formation damage, and controlling fluid loss (Gulbis, 1989).

Great care must be taken in ensuring that the additives used in a stimulation

treatment are compatible with each other. The selection of additives is beyond the

scope of this project given the extremely complex nature of additive selection and

the proprietary nature of many of the chemicals used.

67
Buffers

Buffers are chemicals that adjust the pH of a solution. They are added to fracturing

fluids to maintain the desired p H, Buffers are also used to alter the hydration rate

of certain polymers. Typical buffers are sodium bicarbonate, fumaric acid, soda

ash, sodium acetate, and combinations of these chemicals. They are also used to

control the pH for specific crosslinkers and crosslink times (Ely, 1989a). Their most

important function is to ensure that the pH of the fracturing fluid is within the

operating limits of the breakers or degrading agents. In essence, buffers permit the

preparation of fracturing fluids that will hydrate and degrade properly.

Biocides/bacteriacides

Biocides are added to polymer containing water-based fluids to prevent bacterial

degradation of the polymer and subsequent loss of viscosity. Some bacteria create

hydrogen sulfide and turn the formation oil sour. Biocides are commonly added

t.o the fracture tanks, before the water is added, to achieve a concentrated kill of

bacteria in the tank. More biocides are added when the tank is filled. Normally, 6-8

hours is required before the water is gelled up with the selected polymer. Biocides

are not necessary if oil-based fluids are used.

Breakers

A breaker is an additive that permits a controllable reduction in fluid viscosity.

allowing rapid clean-up (Clark and Skelton, 1978; Tannich, 1975). The breakers

68
currently used are enzymes and oxidatives (Gulbis, 19SH).

The most common oxidative breakers are peroxydisulphates. Breaking occurs

rapidly above 1:250, so only small quantities of peroxydisulphates are used for wells

in the 1500 - 2250 range (Gulbis, 1989). Delayed activated oxidiser systems are used

for higher temperature reservoirs (Ely, 1989a).

Acids and bases are commonly used to break oil-based fluids. The gels break

readily at high temperature, but breaking below 1000 may be difficult.

Surfactants

A surfactant is a material that adsorbs at the interface between two miscible sub-

stances. The surfactant lowers the amount of energy required to expand the interface

(Rosen, 1972). They are used in foams to enhance the formation of stable bubbles.

They are used in emulsion fluids to stabilise external emulsions, and they are used

to reduce surface tension and condition the formation so as to enhance the clean-up

of fracturing fluid from the fracture (Penny et al., 1983).

Clay stabilisers

A potential problem that should be considered when using water based fracturing

fluids is the sensitivity of the formation. Often sandstone formations contain clay

particles that may swell or migrate when they come into contact with fracturing

fluids. This may result in a significant reduction in the formation permeability.

The susceptibility of a formation to damage caused by particle migration and clay

69
swell ing depends on the following factors (Ely. 1989a):

1. Clay content.

2. Clay type.

:3. Clay distribution.

4. Pore size and grain size distribution.

F). Amount and location of the cementing materials.

The susceptibility of a given formation to damage is assessed in the laboratory.

Formation damage can be minimised through the use of clay stabilising agents. The

most commonly used clay stabiliser is KCI as it prevents swelling and migration.

Solutions containing 1% - 3% KCI are commonly used as the base fluid in hydraulic

fracturing. Other salts such as CaGl2 and N H4Cl, and NaGl are also used but

none of these nor KCl provide permanent stabilisation.

More permanent stabilisers include quaternary amines and inorganic polynuclear

cations (Gulbis, 1989).

Fluid loss additives

Good fluid loss control is vital for an efficient fracture treatment. There are a

number of types of materials used for fluid loss control. The type used depends on

the nature of the fluid loss problem; loss to the rock matrix, loss to microfractures

or loss to macrofractures.

70
Leakoff is the infiltration of fluid into the pore spaces of the rock. Some polymers

(e.g. gllar and HPG) are filtered out on the surface of low permeability rocks. These

are known as wall building fluids due to the layer of polymer and particulates that

accumulate on the surface of the fracture. This layer is known as the filter cake

which is much less permeable than the formation. If the fluid contains particles of

the right size then the particles block up the pore spaces encouraging the formation

of a filter-cake. The distribution of pore sizes varies according to the formation.

Generally pore size is proportional to permeability. Silica flour has been found to

be an effective fluid loss additive for high permeability formations (2mO - 200mO)

(Gulbis, 1989).

Oil soluble resins can also be used to control fluid loss. These have the advantage,

over silica flour, that they dissolve in the produced oil. Consequently, there is 110

formation or proppant pack damage when using these resins. However, resins are

II1l1chmore expensive than silica flour.

Emulsified fluids are effective and popular materials for controlling fluid loss.

These materials are oil in water emulsions which contain small concentrations of

diesel. 5% diesel has been found to be an effective fluid loss additive.

Controlling fluid loss to natural fractures intersecting the main fracture is much

mort" difficult than controlling loss to the matrix due to the larger openings. Silica

flour smaller than 200 mesh has been found to be useful for blocking off microfrac-

tures 50,1m wide). Larger particles, such as 100 mesh sand are required to block

off macrofractures (> 50l1m wide) (Gulbis, 1989).

71
3.5.7 Base fluid selection

Most hydraulic fracture treatments are performed using water-based fracturing flu-

ids. These have the advantages of, cost effectiveness, ease of pumping and han-

dling, and physical properties that can be easily controlled. However, there are

circumstances where alternative fluids must be used. The fluid selection is based

on formation compatibility and safety. Some formations are water sensitive, losing

permeability upon contact with water. In other formations water dissolves the ma-

terials cementing the grains together, resulting in deconsolidation of the material.

In addition, the presence of clays discourages the use of water-based fluids.

The formation to be fractured should be evaluated in the laboratory, using core

flow tests, before a particular fluid is selected. In addition, previous experience will

indicate potential problems.

Specific fluid selection criteria are based on formation permeability, reservoir

temperature, fracture height, and bottom hole pressure (Ely, 1989b).

The following criteria are taken from Ely (1989b) and refer mainly to sandstone

formations. Carbonate formations have been successfully stimulated using hydraulic

fracturing. If the formation is more than i5% soluble in acid then acid fracturing

may be preferable.

L Has the treatment been successfully fractured using water-based fluids?

Yes: Water based fluids can be used.

No: Consider using water based fluids based on the formation properties.
2. If only water or methanol treatments have been performed were specific criteria

developed to support their selection?

Yes: If the treatment failed consider foam fluids, quick recovery treat-

ments or possibly the use of clay stabilisers or surfactants to enhance the

success of water based fluids.

No : Consider the use of water based fluids.

3. Does the formation contain.more than 10% of clays that can migrate or swell ?

Yes: Consider oil-based or methanol-based fluids, only after assessing

the possibility of using foams, quick turn-around, or clay stabilisers.

No : There is a strong possibility that water-based fluids can be used.

4. Are the cementing materials holding the grains together water soluble?

Yes: Use non-water-based fluids.

No : Consider water-based fluids.

5. Is the formation susceptible to water blocking problems?

Yes: Consider foamed fluids or rapid turn-around of the fracturing fluid

after the treatment before selecting non water-based fluids.

No : Strongly consider a water-based fluid.

6. Would rapid recovery of the water-based fluid negate the need for a non water

based fluid ?

73
Yes: Use a water-based fluid.

No : Consider non water-based fluids.

7. Would lise of foam (N2 or CO2) eliminate the need for non water-based fluids '!

Yes: A water-based fluid can be used.

No : Strongly consider using an oil- or alcohol-based fluid.

3.6 The economics of fracturing

The economic design of a fracturing treatment has three fundamental aims (Veatch,

1989) :

1. determine the oil/gas production rates and recoveries that can be expected

for various fracture lengths and fracture conductivities; and relate these to the

cash flow.

2. determine the fracture treatment requirements needed to achieve the desired

fracture lengths and conductivities; and relate these to costs.

:3. select the appropriate fracture length and conductivity that maximises eco-

nomic return.

74
Reservoir simulators are used to determine the production rates and recoveries

for various fracture lengths and conductivities. Hydraulic fracturing simulators are

used to determine the necessary treatment volumes. material types, and treatment

schedules. Combining the production estimates and the treatment costs, a relation-

ship between the net revenue and the fracture length is obtained. Such a relationship

is shown in figure 3.10. This shows that there is an optimum point beyond which the

costs required to create longer fractures exceed the revenue generated by producing

the additional length. Thus treatments that optimize the returns are identified.

To investigate the economics associated with fracturing, one must postulate pro-

duction decline curves before and after fracturing. Commonly, the decline curves

fall into three categories (e.g. Veatch, 1989):

1. constant percentage decline,

2. hyperbolic decline, and,

:3. harmonic decline.

Once the appropriate decline curve has been established, then estimates are made

of the cash flow, present worth, return on investment, and rate of return. The most

commonly used parameter in fracturing economics is the net present value (NPV).

This is discussed in the following section. A comprehensive economic description

is beyond the scope of this report so only the simplest case, constant percentage

decline. is discussed here.

i5
NPV ($)

optimum fracture length .

fracture length (ft)

Figure 3.10: Net Present Value (NPV) as a function of fracture length. The axes
scales are arbitrary.

76
3.6.1 Governing Equations

One of the basic requirements in designing a fracture treatment is maximising the

economic benefits. One criterion used to assess the return of a fracturing job is the

:\'et. Present Value (NPV) of the treatment i.e. the fracture treatment is designed

so a!' to maximise the NPV. The NPV is defined as the discounted well revenue

minus the total treatment cost. To determine the NPV, the following parameters

are defined (e.g. Meng, 1989):

Fracture N PV = Discounted Well Revenue - Treatment cost (3.22)

and total treatrnent cost is given by:

Treatment cost = (Fluid + Proppani + Horsepower + Miscellaneous )Cost (:3.23)

where,

Fluid cost = $/gallon x gallons of fluid (:3.24)

Proppaut cost = $/ pound x pounds of proppani (3.25)

and,

qiPsur f
H or sepouier cost =. $ /1 tp x ---
40.8
(3.26)

where qi is the pump rate and Psur f is the surface pumping pressure. The discounted

well revenue for n years is given by:

. . d f,V II R ., _ ~n total net renenlle during year j


D iscounle ,e .eu:nlle - .....
j_) . (:3.27)
- (l+i)J

77
where i denotes the discounted rate. The net well revenue is then given by:

Net Heoen ue = $/bbl (or$/Mscf) X (Fractured - Unfractured)Production

(:3.28)

Taxes and production costs should also be included. The present value Vp is related

to the future value Vf by:

(3.29)

where n is the number of compounding periods over which the interest rate applies.

1
D= . (3.30)
(1+!lL)
na

where i is the annual interest rate (fractional) and na is the number of compounding

periods per annum. A model describing the variation of production with time must

be assumed. A simple model is the constant percentage decline (exponential decay)

of Veatch (1989); i.e. the production rate at time t is given by:

(3.31 )

where qiis the initial production rate and a is the decay constant. The cumulative

production at time t is given by:

1 - e-at
Np=qi--- (:3.32)
a

The present value is given by:

(:L33)

i8
where E is the constant monthly expenses: and,

(3.:34 )

where S is the unit sales price ($ per barrel or $ per Mcf), E, is the taxes per unit

($ per barrel or $ per Mcf) and i; is the royalty interest rate (fractional).

Substituting equation 3.33 into equation 3.29 gives the future value. Thus the

Net Present Value resulting from a fracture treatment can be calculated using (e.g.

Veatch, 1989):

(3.35)

where CT is the Present Value of the treatment cost and the subscripts f and uf

refer to the fractured and unfractured cases respectively. The NPV includes the

entire cash flow between the initial qi, and abandonment, q, producing rates. The

compounding period for computing lip! will usually he different to that for lIp~! as

fracturing the well results in increased production which shortens the lifetime of the

well. The lifetime of the well before fracturing is given by:

(:3 .36)

and the lifetime of the well after fracturing is given by:

(:3.37)

where q! and qa are the production rate after fracturing and the abandonment rate.

respectively.

79
Chapter 4

Expert System Design and

Construction

4.1 Introduction

The aim of this expert system is to provide the user with recommendations for

hydraulic fracture treatment designs which are comprised of a number of compo-

nents. Those addressed here include, numerical model selection, proppant selection,

fracturing fluid selection, and an economic evaluation of the treatment. Fracture

treatments are exceptionally complex and intricate undertakings with myriad per-

mutations of the input parameters. In addition, reservoir stimulation is a dynamic

research area with new products being released regularly. Consequently, any expert

system addressing this domain faces the danger of becoming obsolete very quickly

unless the architecture is set up in such a way that new developments can easily l1P

80
implemented. Realisation of this fact led to the expert system being created as a

series of modules with emphasis being placed on the ease of system update.

Three databases are accessed by the expert system. The first contains some of

the mechanical properties for approximately 700 rock formations. The parameters

contained in the database are: formation depth, Poisson's ratio, Young's modulus,

permeability, and porosity. The second database contains a list of 67 proppants and

their experimentally determined perrneabilities, at 2,000 psi closure stress intervals,

ranging from 0 - 18,000 psi. The third database contains a list of 259 fracturing

fluids, the vendor, the fluid system, the specific gravity, the wallbuilding coefficient,

the spurt-loss coefficient and, the unit cost. The databases were constructed using

MICROSOFT EXCEL) and are easy to update should any additional informa-

tion become available. The object of incorporating the databases was to give the

user a "feel" for the range of values for various parameters but also to be used if

data is missing.

The innate complexity of the problem domain meant that several areas could

not be addressed in detail. For example, selection of the fracturing fluid(s) and

additives is a very involved process. Typically, 7 or 8 additives are mixed with the

base fluid to perform the various tasks outlined in section 3.5. The compatibility

of the additives with the base fluid and with each other is a major concern. Design

of a fracturing fluid system replete with additives requires an in-depth knowledge

of chemistry. In addition, most fracturing fluids and additives are proprietary to

I Trademark of Microsoft. Inc.

8l
various service companies so it was not possible to provide the user with specific

recommendations for additives. Nevertheless, the expert system was designed with

comprehensive help facilities that explain the roles of the various additives.

Two external executable programs are accessed by the expert system. The first

program uses the calculated value of the closure stress to determine the proppants in

t.he database that meet or exceed the calculated proppant permeability. The user is

provided with a list of acceptable proppants and can inspect their permeabilities at

various closure stresses. The second program performs a simple economic evaluation

of the fracture treatment. The user inputs a number of variables and the program

calculates the Net Present Value (NPV) of the treatment (see section 3.6 for details).

The program uses the constant percentage decline model as outlined by Veatch

(1989) and discussed in section 3.6. The economic analyses are not intended to he

comprehensive as most fracture design programs have economics packa.ges built-in,

hut it is intended to provide the user with an estimate of the potential economic

benefit of the treatment. Both programs were written using Borland C++2

The various components of the expert system are shown in figure 4.1.

4.2 Expert System Components

The expert system was constructed a.s a series of modules. Modularisation was a

natural consequence of the nature of the problem domain which can be easily divided

2Trademark of Borland International. Inc.

82
into sub-domains of proppant. selection, numerical model selection, and fracturing

fluid selection. In addition, several intermediate, and peripheral steps were also

formulated as modules. A schematic diagram showing the layout and rnodularisation

of the expert system knowledge-base is shown in figure 4.2. The composition of the

individual modules are shown in more detail in figures 4.3 - 4.7. The criteria used

in the decision making process were discussed in detail in chapter 3.

Before decisions are made on suitable proppants, fluids, and numerical models,

it must be ascertained whether the formation is amenable to fracturing. Initially,

the decision is made on the basis of rock mechanical and reservoir properties. For

example, if there is a water contact nearby, then fracturing may not be advisable or

special precautions must be taken. The applicability of fracturing given formations

is discussed in detail in chapter 3. In addition a decision on the dimensionality of

the numerical model can be made early on in the decision making process. Both of

these aspects are considered in module I of figure 4.2. The decision making process

of module I is shown in more detail in figure 4.3.

A major factor used to determine the appropriateness of fracturing is the for-

mation permeability. If the permeability is too high then fracturing may not he

necessary or a tip-screen-out design may be appropriate. Conversely, if the perme-

ability is too low then a fracture treatment may not increase production sufficiently

to provide an adequate return on investment. Other factors used to determine the

applicability of fracturing are, the permeability thickness (formation permeability

multiplied by the zone height), porosity and Young's modulus. These factors are

83
considered in module II of figure 4.2, which is shown in detail in figure 4.4.

Proppant selection, discussed in detail in section 3.4, is considered in module III

of figure U. The logic process involved is shown in figure 4.5.

Fracturing fluid selection is considered in module IV. Fluids are selected on the

basis of zone height, formation permeability, formation temperature, and whether

the pressure is sufficient to expel the fluid after fracturing. The fluid selection

process is discussed in detail in section 3.5. The logic process involved is shown in

figure 4.6. Selection of fluid additives are not. considered in this report.

Module V considers the selection of the most appropriate two-dimensional nu-

merical model (this module is bypassed if a three-dimensional model can be used).

Model selection is based on the ratio of fracture length to fracture height. The

selection process is shown in figure 4.7. The expert system does not recommend

specific software packages but does permit the user to run the program of his/her

choice at the end of the consultation. This can be done directly from the GUI or by

using the "Run" facility in the Windows program manager.

The economic analysis is performed in module VI (see figures 4.2 and 4.7). This

module is optional and the calculations play no part in the inference process as the

economic criteria used to evaluate treatments vary from formation to formation and

company to company.

84
The final recommendations are contained in module VII (see figures 4.2 and

4.7). There are two parts to the recommendations: firstly, a very brief synopsis is

provided on-screen; and second, more detailed analysis is written to a file which

can he viewed from within the expert system. The second set of recommendations

discusses the factors leading to the decisions made and can be written to a file of

the users choice for later viewing and printing.

Module VIII (see figures 4.2 and 4.7) allows the user to interact with the de-

sign program of their choice. As this application is Windows=based the programs

accessed must also be Windows-based.

4.3 Help Facilities

One of t.he most important features of any piece of software is the "Help" facilities

provided. The advent of Windows led to the development of "Online-help" whereby

the user obtained help by clicking on a button or using one of the function keys.

This expert system is aimed at persons with minimal experience and/or knowl-

edge of hydraulic fracturing. As such, much emphasis is placed on the construction

of a useful "Help" facility. The "Help" facility in the present application was ere-

ated using the Help compiler that comes with the BorlandC++4 software package.

The "Help" facility can be accessed from any input screen by clicking on the button

labelled "Help" in the top left-hand corner of every input screen. The user can then

3Trademark of Microsoft, Inc.


4Tradelllark of Borland International Inc.

8.5
Inference .._ _.,
Knowledge Base
Engine

" ~" ~ 4 4

User Interface - Help File

Proppant
.. Selection
Executable

a Economics
Executable

Rock
Properties
Database

Fluids
Database

Proppants
Database

Figure 4.1: The components of the expert system.

86
Module

{
II

III

IV

VI

VII

VIII

Figure 4.2: A flow chart showing the decision making process of the expert system.

87
I Enter formationlfield identifiers I

NOr Horizontal stress data IYES


I available? I

.
,
I 2-D model appropriate 1 3-0 model appropriate
or pseudo-3-D model

--I Water contact nearby? I -


NO

~
:- I Radial fracture design I

,
Figure 4.3: The decision making process of module I of figure 4.2.

88
K < 0.1 mD? (oil well)
K < 0.01 mD? (gas well)
NO

NO
>6%

Formation is an acceptable
candidate for fracturing.

Formation is an unacceptable
candidate for fracturin .

,
Figure 4.4: The decision making process of module II of figure 4.2

89
I
,
Calculate closure stress I

,
I esc < 5,000 psi YES
Use sand
..
NO

YES
I 5,000 psi < esc < 6,000 psi Use I.S.P. or sand
NO

I 6,000 psi < esc < 10,000psi


NO
YES
Use I.S.P. -
I esc> 10,000psi
YES J Use high strengthI
I proppant I
..

I Select fracture half length


and fracture width
I
I

I Calculate proppant
penneabilitY I
I Select acce~tableproppants I

Ir

,
I Calculate proppant schedule I

Figure 4.5: The decision making process of module III of figure 4.2.

90
Is formation water sensitive?

No

Yes

Use water based fluid UseOil/alcohol based fluid

Select fluid based on; Select fluid based on;


Permeability, Permeability,
Pressure, Pressure,
Zone height, Zone height,
Temperature. Temperature.

,
Figure 4.6: The decision making process of module IV of figure 4.2.

91
I
,
2-D model appropriate?
NO
- Use 3-0 model
YES or pseudo-3-D model

I Calculate L,/h, I
,
YES .. Use GDK model
I L, /h,< 0.312 ---
NO

YES _
I Ltlh,> 3/2 Use PKN model -
NO

I Use Radial model I


-
I Run economics program
(oPtional"> I

I Hard copy of
consultation advice I

I Run design program
(oDtionan' I
,
Figure 4.7: The decision making process involved in modules V, VI, VII, and VIII
of figure 4.2.

92
easily navigate around the various topics to obtain assistance on the desired subject.

Depressing the "FI" function key also activates the help facility.

Clicking 011 the "Help" button brings up a screen which lists the major topics on

which help is available. This is the main help menu and is shown in figure 4.8. The

user then clicks on the appropriate topic, bringing up another screen giving some

general information and further topics for which help is available.

If the user selects About Advisor from the main menu then the screen shown

in figure -l.9 is activated. This screen details the software tools used to create the

application and gives the name and address of the author.

If the user selects Input Parameters from the main menu, then a screen listing

the required input. parameters is activated (see figure 4.10). Clicking the mouse

on any of these topics activates a pop-up box which explains the significance of

the parameter to the fracturing process, sources for more detailed information, and

commonly used values.

Clicking on Calculated Parameters in the main menu activates a screen showing

the parameters used in the inference process that are calculated from the input

para meters (see figure 4.11). Clicking on any of these topics activates a pop-u P box

that explains the significance of the parameter.

If the user selects Economic Parameters from the main menu the screen listing

the input parameters relevant to the economic analysis appear (see figure 4.12).

Clicking on any member of the list activates a pop-up screen that gives information

about the selected t.opic. Economic parameters are considered separately from the

93
rest of the input parameters as they play no part in the inference process and the

economic analysis is optional.

Select.ing Numerical Model Selection from the main help menu activates a screen

which lists the model types commonly used in hydraulic fracturing (see figure 4.13).

Further information on each of these topics is accessed by clicking on the appropriate

topic. If the user selects Two-Dimensional Models then the secondary screen (figure

4.14) displays the topics PKN Model ,GD!{ Model, and Radial Model. If the user

selects GD/( Model or P/(N Model then additional screens are activated (see figures

4.15 and 4.16, respectively). Here the models and the assumptions behind them

are discussed briefly. In addition, there is a diagram of each model showing their

respective geometries. Clicking on Radial Model activates a pop-up box which de-

scribes this model. Selecting Fraciu1'ing Fluid Selection from the main menu brings

lip a screen showing the commonly used fracturing fluid types as well as a section on

additives (see figure 4.li). Selecting Water-based fluids activates a screen which de-

scribes the benefits of water-based fluids over oil-based fluids (see figure 4.18). The

user can then obtain information on Linear Fluids, Crosslinked Fluids, or Delayed

Crosslinked Fluids. Selecting Oil-based Fluids, Alcohol-based Fluids, Emulsion Fluids,

or Foams, activates a pop-up box which describes the circumstances in which each

fluid is appropriate. Selecting Fluid Additives from figure 4.17 activates a screen

which briefly describes why additives are used and presents a list of additives on

which more detailed information is available.

94
The Fluid Additives section is subdivided into the following topics; Buffers.

Biocides/Bactericides , Breakers, Surfactants , Clay Stabilisers, and Fluid Loss

Additives (see figure 4.19).

Clicking on Proppant Selection in the main menu activates a screen which gives a

general description of the proppant selection process used (see figure 4.20). Further

information is available on the various propp ant types (sand, intermediate-strength

proppant, and high strength proppant) and on proppant scheduling.

4.4 Software Tools Used

Selection of software tools is an important part of an Expert System development.

Until relatively recently, most expert systems were constructed using a programming

language such as PROLOG and LISP. These languages were created specifically to

solve problems in knowledge representation. Conventional programming languages,

such as C, and PASCAL, have also been used successfully. As the application of

Expert System technology has become more widespread, there has been a prolifera-

tion of commercially available Expert System shells. The power and sophistication

of the shells varies from those designed for single user applications on a PC to those

designed for mainframe applications. However, as the computing power of PC's has

increased so have the capabilities of the Expert System shells which run on them.

Nowadays it is more efficient for knowledge engineers, interested in applications

rather than programming, to use a commercial shell than to develop their own.

9.5
Fracturing Advisor Help
System
About Advisor
Input Parameters
Calculated Parameters
Economic Parameters
Numerical Model Selection
Fracturing Fluid Selection
Proppant Selection

Figure 4.8: The main menu screen of the HELP system.

96
About Advisor
This Expert System was created using the "NEXPERT OBJECT" (tm Neuron Data Inc.) shell.
The graphical user interface was created using the Windows software construction kit
"TOOLBOOK" (tm Asymetrix Inc.). Any comments, suggestions, or bugs should be reported
to Steve Webber at (405) 325 - 2900 or at

School of Petroleum and Geological Engineering,


Suite T301,
Energy Centre,
100 East Boyd, Norman,
OK 73019 - 0628.
Fax (405) 325 - 7511.

Figure 4.9: The ABOUT ADVISOR help screen.

97
Input Parameters
The following parameters are required by the expert system before recommendations can be
made. For some parameters specific values are required, for others a "Yes" or "No" answer is
required.

Water Contact Nearbv?


Horizontal Stresses
Pemleability
Fracture Height
Porosity
Fracture Gradient
Bottomhole pressure
Formation Depth
Fracture Half-length
Fracture Width
Water Sensitivity
Sufficient Pressure to Unload Fracture
Temperature
Final Slum' Concentration
Fluid Efficiency
Injection Time
Pump Rate
Proppant specitic gravity
Tip Screen out
Fracture Capacitv
Oil-based drilling fluids used

Figure 4.10: The INPUT PARAMETERS help screen.

98
Calculated Parameters

These are parameters that are calculated by the Expert System using the parameters entered by
the user.

Closure Stress
Proppant Permeabilitv
Pad Time
Fracture Conductivity

Figure 4.11: The CALCULATED PARAMETERS help screen.

99
Economic Parameters
These are parameters that are required as input for the economic analysis program or
parameters that are calculated from the input.

Abandonmem Rate
Constant Monthlv Expenses
Discount Rate
Discounted Treatment Costs
Fluid Cost
Future Value After Fracturing
Future Value Before Fracturing
HorseL)QwerCost~
Initial Production Rate
Miscellaneous Costs
Net Present Value
Number of Months
Oil/Gas Price
Production After Fracturing
Production Decay Constant
Prom)ant Cost
Proppant Used
Pumping Rate
Royaltv Interest
Surface Pumping Pressure
Taxes
Ultimate Recovery
Volume of Fracruring Fluid

Figure 4.12: The ECONOMIC PARAMETERS help screen.

100
Numerical Model Selection
The selection of the appropriate numerical model is based on the available data and the desire
fracture geometry. Use of three-dimensional and pseudo three-dimensional models requires
additional parameters than do two-dimensional models. Three-dimensional and
pseudo-three-dimensional models require knowledge of the horizontal stresses, leakoff
coefficients, spurt-loss coefficients, and, fracture toughness values for the target zone and the
adjacent zones if they are to properly utilised. The horizontal stress values strongly influences
fracture heightgrowth and are, by far, the most important parameters. If the horizontal stresses
in the adjacent layers are not known it is best to use a two dimensional model.
It is important that the input parameters are accurately determined as sometime small variations
in input parameters can lead to very different fracture designs.

Three-dimensional Models
Pseudo Three-dimensional Models
Two-dimensional Models
Miscellaneous Models

Figure 4.13: The NUMERICAL MODEL SELECTION help screen.

101
Two-dimensional Models

There are several different kinds of two-dimensional models. Each assumes plane strain
conditions and a constant fracture height. The fracture is confined to a predefined plane. i.e. the
fracture cannot propagate out of plane.

GOKModel
PKN Model
Radial Model

Figure 4.14: The TWO-DIMENSIONAL MODELS help screen.

102
GDKModel
The GDK model assumes plane strain in the vertical direction. Each horizontal section deforms
independently. The fluid pressure is assumed to have some average value in the horizontal
plane. Barenblatt's condition is invoked to ensure smooth closing and avoid stress singularities
at the fracture tip. The GDK model is applicable when the fracture height is much greater than
the fracture length (Fracture length < 0.15 x Fracture height is the criteria used here, see
Nolte, 1989, "Fracturing Diagnosis Using Pressure Decline", in Reservoir Stimulation,
Economides and Nolte Eds., Prentice Hall). This is because the mathematical formulation
assumes plane strain conditions in the horizontal plane. The GDK model geometry is shown
below.

...:.
h,
... . ..
'
.'

Figure 4.15: The GDK MODEL help screen.

103
PKN Model
The PKN model assumes plane strain conditions in the direction of fracture propagation. Each
vertical section can deform independently and the fluid pressure is assumed to be constant in
each vertical section The PKN model is appropriate when the fracture length is greater than the
fracture height. The criteria used her is that the PKN model is suitable when Fracture length >
1.5 x Fracture height. (see Nolte, 1989, "Fracturing Diagnosis Using Pressure Decline", in
Reservoir Stimulation, Economides and Nolte Eds., Prentice Hall)
The PKN Model geometry is shown below.

fracture tip

borehole

~:
,!
W(x,t) ~

..

Figure 4.16: The PKN MODEL help screen.

104
Fracturing Fluid Selection
An ideal fracturing fluid should possess the following characteristics (Ely, 1989)
(1) compatiblewith the formation material.
(2) compatible with the formation fluids.
(3) capable of suspending proppants and transporting them deep into the fracture.
(4) capable of developing the necessary fracture width to accept proppants.
(5) have low fluid loss. .
(6) easy to remove from the formation when the treatment is complete.
(7) low friction properties.
(8) easy to prepare in the field.
(9) retain it's viscosity throughout the treatment.
(10) cost effective.

Water-based fluids
Oil-based Fluids
Alcohol-based Fluids
Emulsion Fluids
Foams
Fluid Additives

Figure 4.17: The FRACTURING FLUID SELECTION help screen.

105
Water-based fluids
Water-based fracturing fluids are used in the majority of fracture treatments. They have several
advantages over oil-based fluids:
(1) economic; The base fluid is water which is cheaper than oil.
(2) result in higher hydrostatic head than oil-based fluids.
(3) .non-flammable.
(4) readily available.
(5) easy to viscosify and control.
(6) easy to dispose of when the treatment is finished.

A good reference is Ely, J.W., 1989, "Fracturing Fluids and Additives", in Recent Advances in
Hydraulic Fracturing.

Linear Fluids
Crosslinked Fluids
Delayed Crosslinked Fluids

Figure 4.18: The WATER-BASED FLUIDS help screen.

106
Fluid Additives
It is common for fracturing fluids to contain 7 or 8 additives. These perform such functions as
pH adjustment, bacteria control, improving high temperature stability, breaking the fluid upon
completion of the treatment, minimising formation damage, and controlling fluid loss. This
programme does not provide advice on the selection of additives.

Buffers
Biocides/Bacteriacides
Breakers
Surfactants
Clay Stabilisers
Fluid Loss Additives

Figure 4.19: The FLUID ADDITIVES help screen.

107
Proppant Selection
The most appropriate proppant is selected on the basis of three factors:
(1) closure stress,
(2) proppant permeability, and
(3) economics.

A general selection criteria is:


Closure stress less than 6,000 psi - Use SAND.
Closure stress in the range 5,000 - 10,000 psi - Use ISP (Intermediate Strength Proppant).
Closure stress greater than 10,000 psi - Use mGH STRENGTH PROPPANT.

The proppant permeability is essentially the permeability of the propped fracture. The desired
proppant permeability is calculated from the formation permeability, fracture half-length,
fracture width, and dimensionless fracture capacity (usually assumed to be 10).

Once several proppants meeting the above criteria have been isolated, the final choice is made
on the basis of cost per pound and availability.

The following steps are taken to select the most appropriate proppant for a given fracture
treatment:
(1) Select the appropriate fracture length knowing the formation permeability (see the graph in
the proppant selection section of the expert system).
(2) Calculate closure stress.
(3) Select appropriate proppant type (sand, ISP, or high strength) based on the closure stress.
(4) Estimate average fracture width.
(5) Calculate proppant permeability assuming a dimensionless fracture capacity of 10.
(6) Select the most economic proppant from those meeting the minimum permeability criteria
of step 5. The permeability degradation with time should be taken into account (i.e. the
proppant selected should have a permeability 2-3 times the design permeability to account for
degradation with time).

Proppant types
Proppant scheduling

Figure 4.20: The PROPPANT SELECTION help screen.

108
The proliferation of windowing programs such as Windows, and OS /25 has mea nt

that graphical user interfaces (GUI's) are now a common feature of commercial

software> packages and are often used as selling points. In fact, many users judge

software quality by the aesthetics of the G UI rather than the capabilities of the

software itself. In essence, it. is important, for both the knowledge engineer and the

users. that the development tools be selected with the G VI as a consideration.

Before the development software is selected, the knowledge engineer should con-

sider the following factors:

1. Likely size of the knowledge-base; the larger the knowledge-base. the more

sophisticated (and expensive) the Expert System shell required.

2. Interfacing requirements. If the Expert System is to interface with databases

and/or external executable programs then the software selected should be

capable of making these links.

:3. Purpose. If the Expert System is to be widely distributed, then software with

restrictive or expensive licensing requirements may not be desirable. This will

110t be a problem if the application is to be run on a single user machine.

-1. Popularity and reputation. Software widely referenced in the 'literature is

likely to be a good choice. In addition, word-of-mouth is a good indicator of

the quality and reputation.

5Trademark of the I.B.M. Corporation

109
5. The desired audience. More sophisticated computer users expect sophisticated

features whereas novices tend to prefer simplicity.

4.4.1 Expert System Shell

NEXPERT OBJECT6 was selected as the most suitable tool for coding the

knowledge-base. Nexpert Object is a powerful software package that has been in-

stalled at more than 16,000 sites throughout the world, including several major

petroleum companies. The package runs under Windows and allows external exe-

cutable programs and databases to be accessed relatively easily. Extensive graphi-

cal and journalling facilities allows the program flow to be traced during operation,

greatly facilitating knowledge-base construction and debugging. In addition, Nex-

pert Object allows the knowledge engineer to create a GUI using Windows-based

software development kits or the C programming language. Efficient use of the in-

terfacing capabilities means that the end-user is unaware of the internal workings

of the final product.

:\'expert Object supports both a reasoning system and object oriented represen-

t.ation. Reasoning is represented using rules. Both backward and forward chaining

along the reasoning paths are supported. Forward chaining starts from a given set

of data and reasons forward to a possible conclusion. It is also known as data-driven

searching. Backward chaining starts from a conclusion and attempts to find data

that supports the conclusion. It is also known as goal-driven searching. Objects

GTradernark of Neuron Data Inc.

110
are used to represent the knowledge being reasoned on by the rules. Hierarchical

relationships are defined between objects to give greater reasoning flexibility. A

class-object-property hierarchy is used. An object is the elementary unit of descrip-

tion. A property is a characteristic associated with an object. A class is a collection

of objects that usually share properties. Nexpert Object has the convenient feature

that data read from databases are assigned as "dynamic objects". This means that

these objects are only used when they are needed which can significantly reduce the

size of the knowledge-base.

Despite it's sophistication Nexpert Object is relatively easy to use and has a

very good reputation for being a reliable and powerful piece of software.

4.4.2 Graphical User Interface

The graphical user interface (GUI) was constructed using the Windows-based soft-

ware construction kit TOOLBOOKi. Toolbook utilises it's own programming lan-

guage "OperrScript" which interfaces easily with external routines such as databases,

spreadsheets, and executable programs. Open Script is an object oriented program-

ming (OOP) language. OOP involves creating objects and writing instructions that

alter the predefined and default behaviour of the objects. For example it is a sim-

ple matter to create a button that, when clicked, extracts specified data from a

spreadsheet. OpenScript uses instructions in the form of scripts for objects. A

script is a series of instructions that determine how an object(s) behave in given cir-

'Trademark of the Asyrnetrix Corp.

III
cumstances. OpenScript is not designed for sophisticated mathematical purposes,

so numerically intensive tasks are more efficiently performed by external programs

t hat are linked into Toolbook using OpenScript code. Because scripts are written

for individual objects only when it is required to change their default behaviour,

the amount of coding required is less than that, for conventional programming lan-

guages. In addition, debugging is greatly simplified as the code is subdivided into

small fragments.

The major benefit of Toolbook is that Nexpert Object provides dynamic link

libraries (D LL's) that facilitate the interfacing process, In addition the author had

access to the source code of an application that used both Toolbook and Nexpert

Ohject.

4.5 Knowledge Acquisition

4.5.1 Introduction

"Kuoioledqe acquisition is the collection and analysis of information from one or

more domain experts and any other sources leading to the production of a number of

documents that form the basis of a functioning knowledge-base" (Greenwell, 1988),

Clearly, the recommendations provided by an expert system are only as good as

the knowledge contained in the knowledge-base. In essence, the analogy commonly

used for conventional programming "garbage in, garbage out" is appropriate. There

are a number of sources of expert knowledge (Badiru, 1992):

112
1. direct consultation with human experts:

2. printed material such as books journals, and articles;

:3. direct task observation:

4. direct task performance, and,

5. third party account of expert procedures.

The knowledge acquisition process for this project concentrated on items (1) and (2)

with some attention paid to item (4). Selection of the appropriate printed material

was a relatively simple process. Preliminary reading and a literature search revealed

a small number of frequently cited books and articles. These were used as a basis for

further reading. In addition, the proceeding of several conferences, held annually,

document the latest research results.

Selection of the appropriate domain experts is a more difficult process. Domain

experts should meet the following criteria (Ignizio, 1990):

1. The experts performance should be generally acknowledged to be above and

beyond that of most other performing the same task.

2. The expert should have a successful track record over a period of time.

:3. The expert should be both willing and able to communicate personal knowl-

edge and should be reasonably articulate in doing so.

11:3
I. The expert should be willing and able to devote the time necessary to develop

the application.

It is commonly estimated that it takes approximately 10 years to become an expert

in il particular domain (Ignizio, 1990). This is based on the belief of psychologists

that a world class expert must accumulate between 50,000 and 100,000 chunks of

heuristic information before becoming an expert and that it takes at least 10 years

to acquire .50,000 chunks (Harmon and King, 1985). This tends to preclude the

notion of the knowledge engineer acting as domain expert.

Direct consultations with domain experts may not be satisfactory for several

reasons, necessitating the use of alternative sources. Such reasons include (lgnizio,

1990) :

1. Some experts are reluctant to communicate their knowledge.

2. Some experts cannot articulate their problem solving strategies. This is com-

monly referred to as the "Paradox of the excellent expert" (Badiru, 1992).

:3. Loose use of the term "expert". In many cases the term "expert" is applied

to anyone who "gets the job done" .

4. For some problems there may not be an expert. e.g. stock market advisors

typically have periods of success followed by periods in which their performance

is mediocre or worse.

114
4.5.2 This Project

Before the knowledge acquisition process began, a significant amount of background

reading was required in order to understand the scope of the problem domain.

A good background knowledge is essential in order for the knowledge engineer to

ask the experts the "right questions" and to determine the best sources of written

material Inadequate background knowledge may result in the experts being asked

inappropriate or trivial questions with a resulting lack of applicability of the elicited

knowledge. Also, experts are usually busy people not well disposed to wasting their

time with people who "have not done their homework".

Due to the wide geographical spread in the location of the selected experts,

it was concluded that questionnaires were a suitable way of obtaining knowledge.

Consequently, an initial questionnaire was constructed and distributed to selected

experts. The initial questionnaire was comprised of 33 questions grouped into 3

broad categories: "Fracture or not ?", "Fracture design", and "Post-fracture analy-

sis". Some of the questions were quite specific while others were quite general. This

structure was deliberate as the intention was to provoke the experts into thinking

about the reasons why they perform tasks the way they do. However, the intention

was to provide a balance between specific and general questions as people are often

reluctant to answer questions that will take "too much time" or require "too much

thought" .

Initially, a list of 6 experts in hydraulic fracturing was drawn up. The experts

115
were selected on the basis of their prominence in the field as well as on the basis

of the likelihood of cooperation (as assessed by several of their colleagues). These

{j persons were then contacted to determine their willingness to participate. Subse-

quently questionnaires were dispatched to each. Some time later questionnaires were

distributed to each of the member companies of the Rock Mechanics Consortium

at The University of Oklahoma. In total, 21 questionnaires were distributed, with

11 being returned completed. In some cases, the recipients forwarded the question-

naires to more qualified colleagues within their company. A blank questionnaire is

shown in Appendix B.

A second questionnaire, concerned specifically with fracturing fluids, was dis-

patched to one of the consortium member companies. Three experts collaborated

on the reply. A blank copy of this questionnaire is shown in Appendix C.

Interpreting the questionnaire replies was a difficult process. For a number of

questions the respondents were unanimous in their agreement. For other questions,

there appeared, initially, to be little or no uniformity in the responses. In most of

these cases the inconsistency resulted from differences in the interpretation of the

questions. Follow-up contact with the respondents generally resolved most of the

inconsistencies. There were several questions in which there was genuine disagree-

ment amongst the respondents. In such cases the contradictions were resolved by

further reading and by taking the majority view.

In many cases, the question responses raised more questions than were answered.

This necessitated more detailed literature searches and reviews. Follow-up converse-

116
tions usually clarified points that were initially unclear. In essence, the questionnaire

replies provided an excellent basis for the construction of the knowledge-base.

4.6 Knowledge-base Construction

Nexpert Object is a very sophisticated software package. Consequently, much time

was invested in learning how to use it efficiently before the knowledge-base was

coded.

The rules were initially written in English before they were coded using the

appropriate syntax. Coding the knowledge-base was not a difficult procedure. How-

ever, debugging, both the knowledge-base and the graphical user interface, was a

laborious and time consuming task. Modularisation of the problem domain greatly

facilitated the construction and debugging of the knowledge-base. This enabled the

expert system to be constructed and debugged piece wise and enabled the strengths

of Nexpert Object and Toolbook to be effectively merged. It was important that

the inference engine of the expert system received the input data from the GUI

at the correct time. If this was not the case, then the outcome was unfired rules,

unevaluated hypotheses and erroneous recommendations. Consequently, the GUI

was written such that the user was required to enter data as it was required by the

inference engine.

Coding the knowledge-base and GUI in such a way that the recommendations

changed as the input changed was also crucial. i.e. it not desirable to have to restart

117
the program each time the user changed the input.

118
Chapter 5

Validation and Verification

Before deployment, expert systems must be verified and validated (Badiru , 1992).

Without proper verification and validation the results can be disappointing, erratic,

or erroneous. Verification and validation are more important for expert systems

than for conventional programs due to the inherent nature of artificial intelligence

technology. Conventional programs are premised on proven scientific facts and IlU-

merical algorithms whilst expert systems attempt to implement heuristics that may

not have been subjected to intense scrutiny. In addition, in more complex problem

domains, erroneous recommendations/conclusions may not be identified until it is

too late.

Despite rapid increases in the number and scope of applications, expert systems

are still the source of much skepticism and there is still considerable resistance to

their widespread deployment. The inherent benefits of expert system technology,

t.o engineering applications, are well documented (e.g. Badiru, 1992). Greater ac-

119
ceptance is dependent on their application to pertinent practical applications and

systems that do perform at the same level, or higher, than human experts. Thus it

is crucial, that they be as error free as possible before widespread deployment.

5.1 Verification

Verification is essentially the determination of whether the system is functioning as

intended. Clearly, this depends ~>n the initial goals set out for the expert system

before development began. It is crucial that realistic and achievable goals be set. If

not, then the final product will not fulfill expectations.

Expert system technology is a rapidly advancing field, so that problems that can-

not be solved today may well be suitable candidates a year from now. It is important

that suitable tools be selected for system development. The initial goals may well

be difficult or impossible to achieve if inadequate tools are used. Verification also

includes additional factors such as debugging of the GUI, run-time operation, and

generation of output.

There are a number of factors that make expert system verification difficult and

hinder the widespread use of artificial intelligence technology. Such factors include

(Badil'lI, 1992):

1. Limitations in the size of the problem domain that can be adequately mod-

elled. Large problem domains can be addressed on a superficial basis, with

a consequent lack of detail in the conclusions and recommendations. COII-

120
versely, some problems can be addressed in great detail but the domain is so

specialised that only a small number of people are interested.

2. Difficulties in acquiring knowledge in cases where the knowledge is limited or

not easily accessed.

:3. Inconsistencies in the knowledge sources.

4. Limited or non-existent learning capabilities in the current generation of expert

systems. Learning must become an integral component of expert systems if

they are to truly replicate the thought processes of human experts.

5.2 Validation

Validation is concerned with how closely the expert system's solution matches the

human expert's solution (Badiru, 1992). A valid expert system offers solutions,

recommendations, and conclusions that can be substituted for those of a human

expert.

The knowledge-base is the portion of the expert system that requires the most

systematic evaluation. It is easiest, from a practical stand-point, to check the va-

lidity of the knowledge-base as the expert system is being constructed rather than

upon completion. Obviously, the inference process changes as the knowledge- base

is updated so, debugging is required at each stage of development.

The objective of validation is to ensure that, for correct input to the system,

121
correct output is obtained. There are a number of factors involved in expert. system

validation. These include (Badiru, 1992):

1. C0l18i8tency.The system should provide similar results for similar problem sce-

narios. There are essentially five types of inconsistency that may be identified

[Ignizio, 1990):

(a) Redundant rules, that can be removed from the rule set without affecting

the outcome.

(b) Conflicting rules, with the same conditions but. resulting in contradictory

conclusions.

(c) Subsumed rules. A rule is subsumed by another if both have identical

conclusions but the first has additional conditions.

[d ) Unnecessary conditions, the same conclusion is reached irrespective of

the value of one of the variables.

(e) Circular rules. when the chaining of several rules results in a closed-loop.

(f) Missing rules, which are essential to the inference process but are missing

from the rule set.

2. Completeness. This concerns how thorough the expert system is and deter-

mines whether the system can effectively address all of the desired problems

within the problem domain. There are several types of incompleteness, in-

cluding (Ignizio, 1990):

122
(a) Unreferenced attribute values. A value (or range of values) for a variable

that does not appear in the condition of any rule.

(b) Illegal attribute values. The value of a variable that is not of a correct

form. For example, the system may be attempting to perform algebraic

manipulations on a string.

(c) Unachievable goals, whenever the user is not requested to enter a value

for a variable and it's value cannot be deduced from any other rule.

:3. Efficiency, reflects how well the expert system uses the knowledge-base, data,

software, and computational power available.

4. Soundness, considers how solid the basis is on which the reasoning is premised.

This is typically dependent on the quality of the knowledge used.

5. U"abiiity. considers such factors as easily understandable questions, ease of

data input, and the help available.

6. Accommodating. Ideally, expert systems should be very forgiving for minor

errors in data input. The user should be informed of incorrect data input.

7. Quality, which is dependent on the level of knowledge in the knowledge-base

and the problem solving strategies used.

123
5.3 This study

The expert system developed in this study was verified and validated frequently

during development. The incremental nature of the development process and the

modular nature of the knowledge-base and G VI greatly facilitated the ease with

which these tasks could be performed.

NEXPERT OBJECT provides extensive debugging facilities. These allow the in-

ference process t.o be examined at any time during the consultation, both graphically

and numerically. The graphical facilities allow the status of rules and hypotheses to

he examined. NEXPERT OBJECT has a colour-coding system which indicates the

status of each rule. The conditions being evaluated, conditions evaluated as true,

conditions evaluated as false, and conditions yet to be evaluated, are displayed in

a different colour on the screen. The numerical facilities allow the values of vari-

ables to be examined at any time. In addition, one has the option of writing the

status of each rule and hypothesis, and the value of each variable to a file for later

examination.

As development progressed, the scope of the expert system changed several times.

Periodically, it hecame clear that some of the tasks initially envisioned were not

feasible and/or practical. Additional features were added when it became clear that

such features were desirable and could be addressed adequately.

For example, one of the original goals was to interface the expert system with

fract ure design programs. It was intended that the system would write the recorn-

1:24
mendations and input variables to a file which could be read directly by the design

program. The program would then use this data to design a fracture treatment. It

became clear that this was impractical, for several reasons including;

1. The number of design programs currently in use In the petroleum industry.

There are several commercially available packages as well as those developed

in-house by those companies with large research departments. Interfacing

would require formatting the expert system output in a form that could he

read by each design program. This was considered to be impractical.

2. Determination of the input formats would require access to the source code

for each program. Clearly, software companies and research department.s are

not going to part with source codes.

:3. Most design programs are interactive and allow the user to change input pa-

rameters at will.

Initially, it was intended to provide a sophisticated economics package that would

lise either of several different models to evaluate the feasibility of the fracture treat-

ment. However, such a goal was considered to be of limited use as the widely-used

commercial software packages incorporate their own economic analysis modules. Ex-

pert systems perform best when the input data is kept to a minimum. In light of

this and the fact the criteria used for assessing the economic viability of a fracture

treatment varies from company to company and from job to job, the economics

125
module provided IS simple and the results are not incorporated into the inference

process,

Selection of fracturing fluid additives was considered to be beyond the scope of

this project. It is common for fracturing fluids to contain 7 or 8 different additives.

Consequently, the number of permutations of additives and fluids is vast. In addi-

tion, service companies have their own brand names for fluids and additives. This

makes it extremely difficult to provide anything other than generic advice. How-

ever, the "Help" facility of the current program explains the function of each of the

commonly used additives so that the user is aware of these.

There were several features, not initially considered, that were added during

development.

1. Integration of databases. The expert system includes databases which contain

information on proppants, fracturing fluids, and the mechanical properties of

approximately 700 rock formations. It was found that databases could be

readily integrated into both the knowledge-base and the GUI.

2. On-line help facilities. Serendipity meant that the author acquired access to

software that greatly facilitated the construction of Windows help files.

:3. Proppant scheduling. Once an algorithm was found, integration of a suggested

proppant schedule was relatively straight forward.

The knowledge-base and GUI were developed incrementally with new rules and

features being added as the previous version was debugged. The modular nature

126
of the system construction meant that most modules could be upgraded indepen-

dently, Once a "reasonably complete" prototype was developed, it was distributed

to member companies of The University of Oklahoma Rock Mechanics Consortium

(RMC) for testing. Feedback and suggestions for improvements were incorporated

as they were received. In addition, the system was demonstrated to several workers,

in the field of hydraulic fracturing, who were not part of the RMC. When it became

clear that the system was approaching completion, it was demonstrated at a major

oil and gas company. The author spent several days consulting with practitioners in

the hydraulic fracturing field, soliciting feedback, suggestions and, criticisms. Those

persons consulted had not had access to the prototype and each had a different area

of specialisation. Consequently, there was little overlap in the suggestions received.

The expert system was received favourably with many suggestions being tendered.

There were several areas in which it was felt that the approach being taken,

although not incorrect, differed from that currently being used. Hydraulic fracturing

is a rapidly evolving field, accentuated, in part, by the proliferation of high speed

personal computers. This enables fracture treatments to be designed in a matter of

minutes rather than hours or days. In addition, technological improvements have

enabled fracture treatments to be undertaken in circumstances that would not have

been considered a few years ago. Such instances include:

l. The presence of a nearby water contact. Until recently, fractu re treatments

were not performed if there was a water contact nearby. Nowadays. the com-
monly used rule of thumb is to design a radial fracture with a radius of half

the distance between the bottom perforation and the water contact.

2. Unconsolidated formations. These are now commonly fractured, notably in

the Gulf of Mexico (e.g. Roodhart et al., 1993).

3. High permeability formations. Fracturing of high permeability formations is

now relatively common, notably in Alaska. "Frac and Pack" techniques are

used in such circumstances. This involves creating a proppant bridge at the

fracture tip, thus preventing further fracture propagation. Proppant continues

to be pumped into the fracture, increasing the width and thus the fracture

conductivity (Hainey and Troncoso, 1992).

Incorporation of the suggestions and comments, although difficult in some cases.

resulted in a greatly improved product. The expert system is currently ready for

deployment. Obviously bugs will be found as the program is used, given the vast

number of permutations of input variables. Maintenance of the knowledge-base and

CUI will continue as the author is notified of bugs or ways in which the program

could be improved.

128
Chapter 6

How to Use this Application

6.1 Software Requirements

The Expert System and Graphical user interface were written to run under Windows.

The following minimum software are required to run the program.

Microsoft Windows Version 3.1.

Toolbook run time executable program.

Nexpert Object development or deployment kit.

Mouse and appropriate driver software.

The system is installed by copying the following files to an appropriate directory.

1. Hjrac.kb - The knowledgebase.

2. Hjrac.tbk - The graphical user interface.

129
;3. RpJ.slk The database file containing the rock properties, proppants, and fiuids

databases.

-L Tbook. exe - The Toolbook run time executable file.

5. Proppani. exe - Selects suitable proppants.

6. Econ.exe - Performs the economic analyses.

T, Frac.ico - The application icon.

8. Proppant.txt - File containing proppant data.

9. Finairep.txt - The template file for the output report.

10. Hjrac.hlp - The Windows help file for this application.

In addition there are several intermediate files that are created during operation of

the application.

6.2 Using the Program

Once the application has been installed on the hard drive, the user associates t.he

file "Hfrac.tbk" with the file "Tbook.exe" using the Windows" Associate" facility.

The user then creates a program group and icon using the Windows routines.

The application is loaded by double clicking on the icon or, alternatively. by

double clicking on the file "Hfrac.tbk" from the Windows file manager. This brings

up the title screen shown in figure 6.1. Initially, a dialog box will appear indicating

130
that the variables are being initialised and the databases loaded. This takes about

20 seconds. The first screen has two buttons present in the bottom right hand

comer. Clicking the mouse on the "Quit !" exits the application. Clicking on the

"Start" button begins the application and takes the user to the screen shown in

figure 6.2. On this screen and on all subsequent screens there are buttons labelled

"Restart", "Back up", "Continue", and "Help". The "Restart" button takes the

user back to the first screen, the "Back up" button brings up the previous screen,

the "Continue" button proceeds to the next screen, and the "Help" button activates

the Windows help routines.

The second screen (figure 6.2) requests input identifying the well. Clicking on

"Continue" takes the user to the third screen (see figure 6.3). This screen requests

t.hat the user indicate the formation lithology. If the formation is limestone or

dolomite, then a field appears requesting the user to indicate formation has .acid

solubility of i.5% or greater. The following screen (figure 6.4) requests a "Yes" or

"No" answer to a question concerning the presence of nearby water contacts. The

user responds by clicking on the radio button. Clicking on "Continue" activates the

screen shown in figure 6.5.

This screen requests the user to indicate whether horizont.al stress data are avail-

able for the target formation as well as in the bounding formations. The user re-

sponds by clicking on the radio button. The response to this question is used to

determine whether a three-dimensional or two-dimensional model is appropriate.

The next screen (figure 6.6) requests the user to input values for the permeability,
fracture height, and porosity and to indicate whether the well produces oil or gas.

The user can access a database of rock formations and their mechanical properties

by clicking on the "Database" button. This take the user to the screen shown in

figure 6.7. After a few seconds a list of approximately 700 formations appears in a

snail box. The properties of the formation of interest can be viewed by clicking on

the scroll box and then clicking on the "Continue" button. This activates the screen

shown in figure 6.8 where, the depth to the top of the formation, Young's modulus,

Poisson '5 ratio, permeability and porosity are displayed. For some formations the

data is incomplete. In such cases, the value 9999999 appears in the appropriate field.

This database is accessed to allow the user to determine whether there is previously

available data for the formation being considered and also to allow the novice to

get a feel for "typical values" of some of the requested input parameters. There is

a facility that allows the user to store their own rock formation data. Clicking on

"Enter Data '?" takes the user to the screen shown in figure 6.9. The user enters

t he requested data and clicks on "Write Data" which writes the information to a file

named "userdat.txt". Clicking on "Read Data" activates the screen shown in figure

6.10 which displays the information in the user created file. Clicking on "Continue"

takes the user back to the "Well log parameters" screen (figure 6.6). Again, clicking

on "Continue" takes the user to the "Fracture Gradient" screen (see figure 6.11).

This screen requests the user to enter values for, bottomhole pressure, the forma-

tion depth and to indicate whether the fracture gradient is known. Clicking on the

radio button, in the top right-hand corner, activates a field which allows the user to

132
enter the fracture gradient if it is known. These parameters are used to determine

SlI itable proppa nts.

The user clicks on "Continue" to proceed to the screen shown in figure 6.12.

This screen is a title screen indicating that the proppant selection module is being

accessed. Clicking on "Continue" activates the screen shown in figure 6. J 3.

This screen requests the user to input a value for the fracture half-length. The

appropriate fracture half-length is proportional to the formation permeability. To

estimate the fracture half-length, the user clicks on "Fracture length" activating

a screen (figure 6.14) that displays a graph of fracture half-length as a function of

permeability. Knowing the formation permeability allows the user to select the half-

length. Clicking on "Continue takes the user back to figure 6.13. The next screen

requests the user to enter a value for the average fracture width (figure 6.15). Click-

ing on "Continue" takes the user to figure 6.16. Here, the user is required to indicate

whether a tip-screen-out ("frac-pack") design is being considered. If the answer is

"Yes", a field appears, requesting the user to enter a value for the dimensionless

fracture conductivity. Clicking on the "Calculate" button computes the proppant

permeability and fracture conductivity, as well as displaying the previously deter-

mined value for the closure stress. A long term degradation of 50% is assumed in

the proppant permeability. Thus, the design proppant permeability is twice that

calculated from equation 3.14.

Clicking on "Continue" takes the user to figure 6.1i. Upon entering this screen,

an external program is executed that determines the proppants that meet the design

133
requirements. The results are displayed in the scroll-box. A proppant database

can be accessed by clicking on the "Database" button. The next screen displays

a number of different proppant types in a scroll box (figure 6.18). The user can

investigate fracture conductivity as a function of closure stress for each of these

proppant.s by clicking on the desired proppant and clicking on "Continue". This

takes the user to figure 6.19 where the fracture conductivity is displayed at closure

stresses from - 18,000 psi in 2,000 psi intervals. Also displayed are the specific

gravity and the cost per pound (if available). Clicking on "Continue" takes the user

back to figure 6.li. Clicking, again, on "Continue"activates the screen displayed

in figure 6.20. Here the user is requested to enter data required to determine the

proppant scheduling. Clicking on "Calculate" computes the pad time, total injection

time, and proppant schedule. The proppant schedule is displayed on the following

screen (figure 6.21).

The next screen is a title screen indicating that the fluid selection module is

being accessed (figure 6.22). The following screen (figure 6.23) requests the user to

indicate whether the formation is water-sensitive. This is done by clicking on the

radio-button. If the answer is "Yes" a field appears requesting the user to indicate

t he type of drilling mud used when the well was drilled. The following screen (figure

6.24) requests the user t.oanswer 'Yes" or "No" to questions concerning, the purpose

of the fracture treatment, and the pressure conditions in the fracture. In addition

the user is required to enter the formation temperature. Clicking on "Database"

activates a screen that lists a number of fracturing fluids from several vendors (figure

134
6.25). Selecting a fluid and clicking on "Continue" displays information about the

fluid 011 a separate screen (figure 6.26). Clicking on "Continue" takes the user back

to figure 6.24. The next screen provides a summary of the factors that influence the

selection of fracturing fluid(s) and the fluid-type that can be used for the application

in question (figure 6.27). The data is displayed by clicking on the "Recommend"

button.

The next screen is entitled "Run Economics" (figure 6.28). Running the eco-

nomic analysis is optional. If the user wishes to perform an economic analysis of

the fracture treatment then clicking on "Continue" activates a title screen for the

economics module (figure 6.29). The next three screens (figures 6.30, 6.31, and

6.:32) require the user to input data concerning the amount of materials used in the

fracture treatment, production data, and economic data. Clicking on "Calculate

NPV" ill figure 6.32 runs an external executable program that calculates the net

present value of the fracture treatment at a pre-determined time in the future. The

economic analyses are summarised in the following screen (figure 6.33).

The next page (figure 6.34) displays the results of the entire consultation. The

suggested numerical model, proppant, and fracturing fluid are displayed. The user

is cautioned that detailed results are contained in the output report and this should

be consulted before any decisions are made. The caution is necessary as part of the

decision making process is contained in the output module. In addition the report

explains the logic used in reaching the final recommendations. The next screen

(figure ().~15)indicates that the consultation is complete. Instructions are given as

135
to how to create a report file. Clicking on "Report" generates an output file. This

process generally takes about 15 seconds. Clicking on "Continue" displays a screen

in which the output report is displayed in a scroll box (figure 6.36). The user can

view the entire detailed report, as well as rename and print the report file.

Clicking Oil "Continue" activates a screen that enables the user to interface with

the external fracture design program of their choice (figure 6.37). If the external

program is a windows-based program then the user selects "EXE" as the file ex-

tension by clicking on the appropriate checkbox. If the external program is a DOS

application then it requires a "PIF" file before it can be executed from under Win-

dows. Once the file extension has been selected then the program is executed by

clicking on the "Run Program" button. Alternatively, the user can utilise the "Run"

facility of the Windows Program Manager.

Once the external application is complete, further consultations can be under-

taken by clicking on "Restart".

6.3 Example Applications

Given the number of input parameters and the range of numerical values that many

of them can hold, there is a large number of possible outcomes. Three quite different

situations are presented here. The output report file is shown for each case. The

output is quite comprehensive and provides detailed explanations of the decision

making process.

136
6.3.1 Example 1

The first case is a typical fracturing situation. Numerical values for the horizontal

stresses are available for the target and bounding formations. There are no adjacent

water contacts. The purpose of the fracture treatment is to stimulate the well and

a tip-screen-out ("frac-pack") design is not required. The formation is not water

sensitive and there is insufficient pressure to expel the fracturing fluid at th~ comple-

tion of the job. An economic analysis is also performed. It is hypothesised that the

fracture treatment will increase the production from 150 BOPD to 400 BOPD. It

should be noted that, normally, production changes are calculated as a consequence

of the modelling effort. However, this expert system is intended to be run before the

design program. Hence, production changes are estimated rather than calculated.

The complete set of input parameters are given in table 6.1.

137
Table 6.1 - Input parameters for example 1.

Well name Example 1


API number 123-345-234
Field nalll' Strawberry
Formation Wishbone
Formation Lithology Limestone
Acid sensitivity> 75% ? No
Horizontal stress data available? Yes
Water contact nearby? No
Permeability 0.1 mD
Fracture height. 80 ft
Porosity 14%
Well type Oil
Formation depth 10,000 ft
Fracture gradient. 0.72 psi/ft
Bottomhole pressure 500 psi
Fracture half-length 800 ft
Est.imated fracture width 0.15 in
Tip-screen-out. design ? No
Final slurry concentration 12lb/gallon
Fluid efficiency 0.35
Pump rate 25 BBL/min
Volume of fract uring fluid 100,000 gal
Proppant specific gravity 2.65
Formation water sensitive? No
Sufficient, pressure to unload fract.ure ? No
Purpose t.o remove damage? No
Formation temperature 100F
Initial production rate 150 BOPD
Prod uction after fracturing 400 BOPD
Ultimate recovery 722,000 BBL
Abandonment rate 5 BOPD
Oil/gas price $15/BBL
Taxes $2/BBL
Royalty interest. 0.875 %
Discount. rate 15.0 %
Number of months 6
Production decay constant 0.013 cycles/month
Const ant, rnont.hly expenses $3,000
Fluid cost. $1.50/ gallon
Proppant cost. $0.07/lb
Surface pumping pressure 500 psi
Horsepower costs $2/horsepower
Miscellaneous cost.s $10,000

The output generated by the expert system for this set of input parameters is dis-

played in the following pages. A three-dimensional model is suggested as the user

indicated that he/she had the necessary input data.

The closure stress was calculated to be 6700 psi. Using the criteria discussed in

1:38
section :3.4, I.S.P. is the most suitable propping agent. 32 proppants met. or

exceeded the calculated design permeability of 128,000 mO. The procedure used to

select the proppants is detailed in the report.

The user indicated that there was insufficient pressure to unload the fracture

after treatment, and that the formation was not water sensitive. Consequently,

the most appropriate fluids are foams, energised guar-based fluids, and energised

polyemulsions.

The economic analysis indicates a net present value, of the fracture treatment

of $311,507 after 6 months.

In this expert system the economics module is not explicitly coupled to the selec-

t.ion of the, numerical model, fracturing fluid or, proppant. As such, the volumes of

materials used are not calculated by the program but are entered by the user. The

economic analysis is intended to indicate to the user the financial returns that can

be expected from a. treatment that results in the user-specified change in produc-

tion, irrespective of the numerical model used. Thus, the economic analysis will not

change as the suggested numerical model changes. As explained in chapter 3, the

quantity of proppant and fracturing fluid used do depend on the numerical model

used so the economic analysis is somewhat artificial. It is intended that the rec-

ommendations provided by this program be used as a basis for the input required

by hydraulic fracturing simulators, most of which have economics modules t.hat. lise

advanced numerical techniques to calculate the volume of materials used. As such.

inclusion of a sophisticated economics module was not considered to be necessary.

139
HFRAC Expert System
Version 1.1 - July 1994
Hydraulic Fracturing Advisor
Tue /11/22/1994

************************************************************************
******************** WELL DATA **********************************
************************************************************************

WELL NAME Example 1


API NUMBER 123-345-234
FIELD NAME Strawberry
WELL TYPE oil
FORMATION TYPE Limestone
FORMATION NAME Wishbone
PERMEABILITY 0.1000 mD.
POROSITY 14.00 t.
TEMPERATURE 100.0 F.
FRACTURE HEIGHT 80.0 ft.
DEPTH 10000.0 ft.
FRACTURE HALF LENGTH 800.0ft.
FRACTURE WIDTH 0.15 in.
FRACTURE CAPACITY 10.0
ACID SOLUBILITY No
*************************************************************************
****************** CALCULATED PARAMETERS ******************************
*************************************************************************

FRACTURE GRADIENT 0.72


CLOSURE STRESS 6700.0 psi.
PERMEABILITY THICKNESS 8.0 mD.ft.
PROPPANT PERMEABILITY 128000.0 mO.
FRACTURE CONDUCTIVITY 1600.0 mD.ft
**********.**************************************************************
****************** TREATMENT PURPOSE **********************************

Stimulate production
*************************************************************************
************************ RECOMMENDATIONS ****************************
**********************************************************************.**

MODEL
There is sufficient data for a three dimensional model to be used.
However, true three-dimensional models are difficult to use and are
very time consuming. In most cases pseudo-three-dimensional models
provide sufficiently accurate results and are "friendlier" to use.
Three-dimensional models require additional input parameters than
do two-dimensional models. The additional parameters are;
(1) Horizontal stress determinations;
(2) Elastic moduli;
(3) Fracture toughness;
(4) Leakoff coefficients, and,
(5) Spurt loss data.
for the target and adjacent formations.

140
The horizontal stress values have the greatest, by far, effect on the
fracture geometry.

************************************************************************
************************* PROPPANT ************************************
************************************************************************
I.S.P. is the most appropriate proppant
The following proppants meet or exceed the permeability requirements at
the calculated closure stress.
12/20 Resin coated sand (precured)
20/40 Resin coated sand (high strength)
20/40 Carbo lite
16/30 Carbo lite
12/20 Carbo lite
8/12 Carbo lite
20/40 LWP
16/20 LWP
12/18 LWP
10/14 LWP
20/40 Interprop +
16/30 Interprop +
12/20 Interprop +
8/12 Interprop +
20/40 Carbo HC
16/30 Carbo HC
12/20 Carbo HC
6/10 Carbo HC
20/40 Ultra prop +
16/20 Ultra prop +
20/40 Bauxite HC
16/30 Bauxite HC
6/12 Bauxite HC
16/30 Arizona sand
12/20 Arizona sand
12/20 Intermediate strength
16/20 Intermediate strength
20/40 Intermediate strength
20/40 Zirconia proppant
20/40 AcFrac CR
16/30 AcFrac CR
12/20 AcFrac CR
************************* Proppant Schedule ****************************
Total fluid volume 100000 gallons
Pad volume 46446 gallons
Injection time 95 minutes
Pad time 44 minutes
Stage duration 5.1 minutes
Specific gravity 2.65
************************************************************************

stage slurry volume (gal) clean volume (gal) Proppant conc (lb/gal)
1 5355 4534 4
2 5355 4366 5
3 5355 4211 6
4 5355 4066 7
5 5355 3931 8

141
6 5355 3804 9
7 5355 3685 10
8 5355 3574 11
9 5355 3574 11
10 5355 3469 12

************************* Comments *************************************


The proppant is selected, based on closure stress and proppant
permeability. A dimensionless fracture conductivity of 10 and a
long term permeability degradation of 50' have been assumed.
For closure stresses less than 5,000 psi, Sand is the most appropriate
proppant. For 5,000 psi < closure stress < 6,000 psi either sand or I.S.P.
(Intermediate Strength Proppant) can be used.
For 6000psi < closure stress < 10,000psi I.S.P. is the most appropriate.
For closure stresses greater than 10,000 psi a high strength proppant
is recommended.
The particular proppant to be used is selected (from those meeting ~he
closure stress and permeability criteria) as a function of availability
and economics.
*********************************************************** ***********
******************-****** FLUID ***************************************
************************************************************************

=< 30 lbm energised crosslinked guar plus bridging fluid loss; =< 65 quality
C02 or N2 foam plus bridging fluid loss; or energised polyemulsion plus
bridging fluid loss
************************************************************************

FLUID LOSS AGENTS

If the formation contains an abundance of natural fractures then 100 mesh


sand, silica flour, or other building fluid loss agents should be used.
The concentration should be based on mini-frac data, previous fracture
treatments, or laboratory data.

-*********************** Comments **************************************


NOTE 2
Polyemulsion fluid is recommended if the well is an oil well and if there is
crude oil available to prepare the emulsion.
NOTE 6
The quantity of bridging fluid loss used in a low permeability formation
will be lower than that used in a moderate or high permeability formation.
Very low permeability formations may not require additives and formations
with 0.2 mD may require, for instance, 20 lbm/lOO gallons. Concentrations
of hydrocarbon fluid loss will also vary depending on permeability.
NOTE 7
Many stimulated wells do not contain energised gases and cannot unload
fluids. These wells are jetted back, swabbed, or pumped after treatment.
Fluid sensitivity, tendency to imbibe treatment fluids, or simply relative
cost of unloading techniques will dictate whether an energising medium
should be used. The energised medium, whether foam or simply added gas,
functions as a fluid loss additive and should be replaced if the energising
medium is negated.
************************************************************************
The recommendations given here are meant to be used as a GUIDE for those
persons unfamilar with hydraulic fracturing technology and not as hard
and fast rules set in concrete. Different companies have different

142
philosophies regarding fracture design. The recommendations given here
are generic in the sense that no particular company's products are
recommended.
************************************************************************
***********************Economic Analysis *******************************
REFERENCE is Veatch (1989)
Initial production rate 150 Barrels per day
Production rate after fracturing 400 Barrels per day
Ultimate recovery ~ 722000 Barrels
Abandonment rate .. 5 Barrels per day
Oil Price $ 15
Taxes - $ 2
Royalty Rate 0.875 t
Discount Rate 15 %
Number of Months 6
Decay Constant 0.013 cycles per month
Constant Monthly Expenses $ 3000
Volume of fracturing fluid 100000 Gallons
Fluid cost $1. 5 /gallon
Amount of proppant '"420000 Pounds
Proppant cost $0.07 /lb
Pump rate = 25 BBL/min
Surface pumping pressure .. 2500 psi .
Horsepower cost $2 /horsepower
Miscellaneous costs $10000
Estimated lifetime before fracturing 16935.6 days
Estimated lifetime after fracturing .. 8009.68 days
Treatment costs .. $192464
The discounted treatment cost .. $207357

INCREMENTAL

MONTH PRODUCTION PRODUCTION PRESENT VALUE FUTURE VALUE


1 148.1 4536.1 47238.1 47828.6
2 146.2 4477 .5 46594.3 47766.4
3 144.3 4419.7 45958.8 47703.9
4 142.4 4362.6 45331. 5 47640.9
5 140.6 4306.2 44712.3 47577.6
6 138.7 4250.6 44101.1 47513.8

CUMMULATIVE

MONTH PRODUCTION PRODUCTION PRESENT VALUE FUTURE VALUE


1 149.0 4536.1 47238.1 47828.6
2 296.1 9013.6 93832.4 95595.0
3 441.3 13433.2 139791.2 143298.9
4 584.7 17795.8 185122.7 190939.8
5 726.1 22102.0 229835.0 238517.4
6 865.8 26352.6 273936.1 286031.2

143
******************************************************
Data after well has been fractured
************.*****.***********************************

INCREMENTAL
MONTH
1
2
PRODUCTION
394.8
389.7
II PRODUCTION
12096.2
11940.0
PRESENT VALUE I FUTURE VALUE

I 130316.1
128599.3
I
131945.0
131834.3
3 384.7 11785.8 126904.6 131723.3
4 379.7 11633.5 125231.8 131611.8
5 374.8 11483.3 123580.7 131500.0
6 370.0 11335.0 121950.8 131387.8

CUMMULATIVE
MONTH PRODUCTION PRODUCTION PRESENT VALUE FUTURE VALUE
1 397.4 12096.2 130316.1 131945.0
2 789.7 24036.2 258915.4 263779.4
3 1176.9 35821.9 385820.0 395502.6
4 1559.1 47455.5 511051.8 527114.4
5 1936.4 58938.7 634632.5 658614.4
6 2308.8 70273.7 756583.3 790002.1

The Nett Present Value is $ 311507.2 (Compounded monthly)

NOTE

For the INCREMENTAL data;


(1) The first column refers to the month.
(2) The second column refers to the instantaneous production at the end
of the month.
(3) The third column refers to the total production during the month.
(4) The fourth column refers to the present value of the monthly production.
(5) the fifth column refers to the future value

For the CUMULATIVE data the numbers are summed monthly.

144
6.3.2 Example 2

Example 2 is also a fairly typical fracturing situation. There are several significant

differences from the first example. The major differences are:

Lack of horizontal stress data.

Lower permeability.

Greater depth.

Longer fracture.

Greater volume of fracturing fluid.

The formation is sufficiently pressurised to unload the fracture after treatment.

The formation is highly water sensitive.

Higher temperature.

The input parameters for example 2 are shown in table 6.2. An economic anal-

ysis was not performed in this case.

145
Table 6.2 - Input parameters for example 2.

Well name Example 2


API number 12~-~45-235
Field name Strawberry
Formation Wishbone 2
Formation Lit.hology Limestone
Acid sensitivity > 75% ? No
Horizontal stress data available? No
Water contact nearby? No
Permeability 0.05 mD
Zone height 80 ft
Porosity 14%
Well type Oil
Bottomhole pressure 800 psi
Fracture gradient 0.72 psi/ft
Format.ion depth 15,000 ft
Fracture half length 1200 ft
Fracture width 0.1 in
Tip-screen-out. design? No
Final slurry concentration 16 lb/gallon
Fluid efficiency 0.35
Pump rate 25 BBLjrnin
Fluid Volume 200,000 gal.
Proppant specific gravity 2.65
Formation water sensitive ? Yes
Oil-based drilling mud used? Yes
Sufficient pressure to unload fracture? Yes
Purpose t.o remove damage? No
Formation temperature 300 F

The program output for this set of input parameters is shown in the following pages.

As the user indicated that horizontal stress data was not available, a two-

dimensional numerical model is appropriate. The fracture length exceeds 1.5 times

the fracture height so the PKN model is suitable. The closure stress was found to

be 10,000 psi so high strength proppants should be used. 19 proppants meet or

exceed the design permeability of 144,000 mD at. the calculated closure stress. The

formation is highly water sensitive so oil-based and methanol-based fluids should be

used.

146
HFRAC Expert System

Version 1.1 - July 1994

Hydraulic Fracturing Advisor


Tue /l1/22/1994

************************************************************************
***.**************** WELL DATA **********************************
************************************************************************

WELL NAME Example 2


API NUMBER 123-345-235
FIELD NAME Strawberry
WELL TYPE oil
FORMATION TYPE Dolomite
FORMATION NAME Wishbone 2
PERMEABILITY 0.0500 mD.
POROSITY 14.00 t.
TEMPERATURE 300.0 F.
FRACTURE HEIGHT 80.0 ft.
DEPTH 15000.0 ft.
FRACTURE HALF LENGTH 1200.0 ft.
FRACTURE WIDTH 0.10 in.
FRACTURE CAPACITY 10.0
ACID SOLUBILITY No
*************************************************************************
****************** CALCULATED PARAMETERS ******************************
*************************************************************************

FRACTURE GRADIENT 0.72


CLOSURE STRESS 10000.0 psi.
PERMEABILITY THICKNESS 4.0 mD.ft.
PROPPANT PERMEABILITY 144000.0 mD.
FRACTURE CONDUCTIVITY 1200.0 mD.ft
*************************************************************************
****************** TREATMENT PURPOSE **********************************
Stimulate production

*********.****.******** ****************************'
************************ RECOMMENDATIONS ****************************
*************************************************************************

MODEL
Use PKN model
(however a pseudo-three-dimensional model may be more useful)
The PKN model is appropriate for situations in which the fracture
length is much greater than the fracture height. More specifically
2L > 3h (L is the fracture half length and h is the fracture height)
***************.*.***** Comments *********.**.*.* *********************
Three dimensional models require additional input parameters than
do two dimensional models. The additional parameters are;
(1) Horizontal stress determinations
(2) Elastic moduli
(3) Fracture toughness
(4) Leakoff coefficients and

147
(5) Spurt loss data
for the target and adjacent formations.

The horizontal stress values have the greatest, by far, effect on the
fracture geometry.
Truly three-dimensional models are difficult and time consuming to use.
In most cases pseudo-three-dimensional models provide sufficiently
accurate results.

************************************************************************
****************** PROPPANT ************************************
************************************************************************

Use a high strength proppant


The following proppants meet or exceed the permeability requirements at
the calculated closure stress.
16/30 Carbo lite
8/12 Carbo lite
16/20 LWP
20/40 Interprop +
8/12 Interprop +
20/40 Carbo HC
16/30 Carbo HC
12/20 Carbo HC
6/10 Carbo HC
20/40 Ultra prop +
16/20 Ultra prop +
20/40 Bauxite HC
16/30 Bauxite HC
6/12 Bauxite HC
12/20 Intermediate strength
16/20 Intermediate strength
20/40 Intermediate strength
20/40 Zirconia proppant
16/30 AcFrac CR

**.***.****.**.******.*** Proppant Schedule ***.***.********************


Total fluid volume 200000 gallons
Pad volume 92893 gallons
Injection time 190 minutes
Pad time 88 minutes
Stage duration 10.2 minutes
Specific gravity 2.65
**********************w*************************************************

stage slurry volume (gal) clean volume (gal) Proppant conc (lb/gal)
1 10711 8733 5
2 10711 8132 7
3 10711 7862 8
4 10711 7372 10
5 10711 7149 11
6 10711 6939 12
7 10711 6741 13
8 10711 6554 14
9 10711 6377 15
10 10711 6210 16
************************* Comments *************************************

148
The proppant is selected, based on closure stress and proppant
permeability. A dimensionless fracture conductivity of 10 and a
long term permeability degradation of 50% have been assumed.
For closure stresses less than 5,000 psi, Sand is the most appropriate
proppant. For 5,000 psi < closure stress < 6,000 psi either sand or I.S.P.
(Intermediate Strength Proppant) can be used.
For 6000psi < closure stress < 10,000psi I.S.P. is the most appropriate.
For closure stresses greater than 10,000 psi a high strength proppant
is recommended.
The particular proppant to be used is selected (from those meeting the
closure stress and permeability criteria) as a function of availability
and economics.
************************************************************************
************************* FLUID ***************************************
************************************************************************

High-temperature-stable, high viscosity phosphate ester oil gel plus


bridging
fluid loss or 40 to 60 lbm crosslinked methanol/water gel plus bridging
fluid
loss
.* ** ++ *********.** +++*+** ++++
FLUID LOSS AGENTS
If the formation contains an abundance of natural fractures then 100 mesh
sand, silica flour, or other building fluid loss agents should be used.
The concentration should be based on mini-frac data, previous fracture
treatments, or laboratory data.

************************ Comments **************************************


NOTE 4
The selection of energised methanol/water gel or methanol/water crosslink
system over an oil system is based on whether the f_ormation to be treated
is an oil well or a gas well. The percentage of water one can use in a
linear
methanol/water gel or a crosslink methanol/water gel has to be based on the
particular sensitivity of the formation to be treated. linear and
crosslinked
alcohol/water systems up to and including 100% alcohol are available. One
needs to confer with the service company about temperature limitations and
investigate potential gel degradation problems with the various polymers and
crosslink polymers.
NOTE 5
The phosphate ester gelled oils have an apparent viscosity based on loading
of a liquid additive. By varying the loading of the liquid additive, one can
have a fairly-low-viscosity, moderate-viscosity, or high-viscosity system.
Low viscosity means a loading of some 6 gallons/1,000 gallons or lower; a
moderate-viscosity means 8 gallons/l,OOO gallons; and high-viscosity means
10 gallons/1,000 gallons or greater.
NOTE 6
The quantity of bridging fluid loss used in a low permeability formation
will be lower than that used in a moderate or high permeability formation.
Very low permeability formations may not require additives and formations
with 0.2 mD may require, for instance, 20 lbm/100 gallons. Concentrations
of hydrocarbon fluid loss will also vary depending on permeability.
************************************************************************
The recommendations given here are meant to be used as a GUIDE for those
persons unfamilar with hydraulic fracturing technology and not as hard
and fast rules set in concrete. Different companies have different
philosophies regarding fracture design. The recommendations given here
are generic in the sense that no particular company's products are
recommended.

149
6.3.3 Example 3

Example :3differs from the previous two examples in that the purpose of the treat-

merit is to remove near wellbore damage and that the permeability is low . Conse-

quently, the fracture length will be small. The input parameters for example 3 are

shown in table 6.3.

Table 6.3 - Input parameters for example 3.

Well name Example 3


API number 123-345-236
Field name Strawberry
Formation Wishbone 3
Formation Lithology Sandstone
Water contact. nearby? No
Horizontal stress data available? No
Permeability 120 mD
Zone height 40 ft
Porosit.y 14%
Well t.ype Oil
Bottomhole pressure 500 psi
Fract.ure gradient 0.62 psi/ft
Formation depth 10,000 ft
Fract ure half length 40 ft
Fract.ure width 0.5 in
Tip-screen-out design? Yes
Fracture capacity 3.0
Final slurry concentrat.ion 12 lb/gallon
Fluid efficiency 0.35
Pump rate 25 BBL/min
Fluid volume 100,000 gal
Proppant specific gravity 2.65
Sufficient. pressure to unload fracture? No
Formation water sensitive? No
Purpose to remove damage? Yes
Formation temperature 260 F

The output generated for this set of input parameters is shown in the following

pages. Horizontal stress data is unavailable so that a two-dimensional model is ap-

propriate. The fracture length is equal to the fracture half-length so that a radial

model is appropriate. The closure stress was found to be 5700

150
pSI. 5 proppants meet or exceed the design permeability of 691,200 mO. The

formation IS not water sensitive and there is insufficient pressure to unload the

fracture after treatment so that foamed energised guars/polyernulsions and foams

are suitable.

151
HFRAC Expert System
Version 1.1 - July 1994
Hydraulic Fracturing Advisor
Tue /11/22/1994

************************************************************************
******************** WELL DATA **********************************
************************************************************************

WELL NAME Example 3


API NUMBER 123-345-236
FIELD NAME Strawberry
WELL TYPE oil
FORMATION TYPE Sandstone
FORMATION NAME Wishbone 3

PERMEABILITY 120.0000 mO.


POROSITY 14.00 t.
TEMPERATURE 260.0 F.
FRACTURE HEIGHT 40.0 ft.
DEPTH 10000.0 ft.
FRACTURE HALF LENGTH 40.0 ft.
FRACTURE WIDTH 0.50 in.
FRACTURE CAPACITY 3.0
ACID SOLUBILITY No

*************************************************************************
****************** CALCULATED PARAMETERS ******************************
*************************************************************************

FRACTURE GRADIENT 0.62


CLOSURE STRESS 5700.0 psi.
PERMEABILITY THICKNESS 4800.0 mD.ft.
PROPPANT PERMEABILITY 691200.0 mO.
FRACTURE CONDUCTIVITY 28800.0 mO.ft
*************************************************************************
****************** TREATMENT PURPOSE **********************************
Remove wellbore damage
Tip screen out design.

*************************************************************************
RECOMMENDATIONS ****************************
*************************************************************************

MODEL

Use RADIAL model


(however a psuedo-three-dimensional model may be more useful)
The RADIAL model is appropriate for situations in which the fracture
length is approximately equal to the fracture height. Here it has been
assumed that the radial model is the most appropriate for situations
where 3h < 2L < 0.3h. (L is the fracture half length and h is the
fracture height). i.e. in cases intermediate to the PKN and GDK models.
*********************** Comments ****************************************
Three dimensional models require additional input parameters than
do two dimensional models. The additional parameters are;

152
(1) Horizontal stress determinations
(2) Elastic moduli
(3) Fracture toughness
(4) Leakoff coefficients and
(5) Spurt loss data
for the target and adjacent formations.

The horizontal stress values have the greatest, by far, effect on the
fracture geometry.
Truly three-dimensional models are difficult and time consuming to use.
In most cases pseudo-three-dimensional models provide sufficiently
accurate results.

The formation permeability is very high. Formations of this permeability


are usually fractured using a tip-screen-out design. Here th objective is
to create a short, wide fracture of very high conductivity.

*******************************************************.**.***.*****
*****************.*.***** PROPPANT ******.*****************************
***************.****************.***.**********.****.**.*.**.*
Sand or I.S.P. should be used
The following proppants meet or exceed the permeability requirements at
the calculated closure stress.
8/12 Carbo lite
8/12 Interprop +
6/10 Carbo HC
6/12 Bauxite HC
12/20 Intermediate strength

****.****.***** Proppant Schedule .**.***.*****.****.*


Total fluid volume 100000 gallons
Pad volume 46446 gallons
Injection time 95 minutes
Pad time 44 minutes
Stage duration 5.1 minutes
Specific gravity 2.65
****.***.****.****.*******.***.** **.****.***********************
stage slurry volume (gal) clean volume (gal) Proppant conc (lb/gal)
1 5355 4534 4
2 5355 4366 5
3 5355 4211 6
4 5355 4066 7
5 5355 3931 8
6 5355 3804 9
7 5355 3685 10
8 5355 3574 11
9 5355 3574 11
10 5355 3469 12
.*.********************** Comments *************************************

The proppant is selected, based on closure stress and proppant


permeability. A dimensionless fracture conductivity of 10 and a
long term permeability degradation of sot have been assumed.
For closure stresses less than 5,000 psi, Sand is the most appropriate
proppant. For 5,000 psi < closure stress < 6,000 psi either sand or I.S.P.
(Intermediate Strength Proppant) can be used.

153
For 6000psi < closure stress < 10,000psi I.S.P. is the most appropriate.
For closure stresses greater than 10,000 psi a high strength proppant
is recommended.
The particular proppant to be used is selected (from those meeting the
closure stress and permeability criteria) as a function of availability
and economics.
***************.********************************************************
************************* FLUID ***************************************
**********************************************************************

Energised 30 - 40 lb guar crosslink + bridging fluid loss or 65 - 80 quality


N2
or C02 foam or energised polyemulsion + bridging fluid loss
************************************************************************

FLUID LOSS AGENTS


If the formation contains an abundance of natural fractures then 100 mesh
sand, silica flour, or other building fluid loss agents should be used.
The concentration should be based on mini-frac data, previous fracture
treatments, or laboratory data.
************************ Comments **************************************

NOTE 2
Polyemulsion fluid is recommended if the well is an oil well and if there is
crude oil available to prepare the emulsion.
NOTE 6
The quantity of bridging fluid loss used in a low permeability formation
will be lower than that used in a moderate or high permeability formation.
Very low permeability formations may not require additives and formations
with 0.2 roD may require, for instance, 20 lbm/100 gallons. Concentrations
of hydrocarbon fluid loss will also vary depending on permeability.
NOTE 7
Many stimulated wells do not contain energised gases and cannot unload
fluids. These wells are jetted back, swabbed, or pumped after treatment.
Fluid sensitivity, tendency to imbibe treatment fluids, or simply relative
cost of unloading techniques will dictate whether an energising medium
should be used. The energised medium, whether foam or simply added gas,
functions.as a fluid loss additive and should be replaced if the energising
medium is negated.
************************************************************************

The recommendations given here are meant to be used as a GUIDE for those
persons unfamilar with hydraulic fracturing technology and not as hard
and fast rules set in concrete. Different companies have different
philosophies regarding fracture design. The recommendations given here
are generic in the sense that no particular company's products are
recommended.
***.********************************************************************

1~4
Figure 6.1: Graphical user interface screen 1.

155
Figure 6.2: Graphical user interface screen 2.

Ui(j
Figure 6.3: Graphical user interface screen :3.

1.'i7
Figure G.4: Graphical user interface screen .1.

l.),~
Figure (i':i: Graphical user interface screen ;1.
Figure (i.ti: Graphical user int erfaco screen (i,

Hill
Figure 6.1: Graphical user interface ~cr('l'll 'i.

Ilil
Figure 6.8: Graphical user interface screen S.

!fj~
Figllf! (i.!J: G ra pliical user interface SCJ'('I!1l !L
Figure (i.IO: Graphical user interface screen 10.

) Ii)
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Figure fi.12: Graphical user interface ~lTI'I'll l:2.

1 fjfi
Figure (i.l :J: Graphical user interface screen 1:3.

lfi7
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Ili~
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IW
Figure 6.1(j: Graphical user interface ~IT('(>11 Hi.

1,0
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i IJ
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1-
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17!1
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Figure (i.2!); Graphical user interface screen :2!J.
Figure G.:3tJ: Graphical user interface' screen :30.

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1111
Chapter 7

Conclusions and

Recommendations

An expert system has been developed that provides the user with advice on the

most appropriate numerical model to use to design hydraulic fracture stimulation

treatments including, the most appropriate fracturing fluid(s), and the most appro-

priate proppant(s). The program also enables the user to perform a simple economic

analysis of the fracture treatment.

The expert system is comprised of several parts; the graphical user interface

(GUI), which handles the transfer of information between the user and the infer-

ence engine, the knowledgebase which handles the decision making process, and two

external executable files which handle the economic analysis and proppant selec-

tion routines. The knowledgebase is comprised of approximately 200 rules which

determine the final recommendations. Additional decision making capabilities are

192
incorporated into the GUI and the template for the output report. In addition the

program accesses three databases. Information on the mechanical properties of a

number of rock formations is contained in one database. A second database con-

tains information on a number of commercially available fracturing fluids. The third

database contains information on the permeability of a number of proppants at var-

ious closure stresses. Information contained in the rock formations and fracturing

fluids databases is not used in the decision making process, but is provided to enable

the user to have a feel for realistic values of some of the requested input parameters.

Facilities are provided that enable the user to enter their own rock formation data

into a separate file. Data can be entered via the GUI or by directly editing the data

file.

The expert system is intended for petroleum engineers with little or no experience

in the field of hydraulic fracturing. As such, extensive help facilities are provided.

The help facilities were written using the standard Windows format. Activation of

the help facilities provides the user with a list of topics for which information is

available. The user navigates through the topics using the mouse. Information and

explanations are provided on each of the requested input parameters. In addition,

the criteria and logic used in the decision making process are explained in detail.

Use of this expert system will greatly assist the learning process of persons unfa-

miliar with hydraulic fracturing. The program is user-friendly, and quick. Loading

the program takes less than a minute and once the rock formations database has

been loaded (about 30 seconds) the length of each consultation is a function of how

193
quickly the user can respond to the requests for input data. The help facilities pro-

vide information on many concepts, explained in layman terms. Program reasoning

is explained in the output report. Error handling routines inform the user when

invalid, or physically unreasonable, data has been entered.

The results of each consultation are presented in two forms. Firstly, there is

a very concise summary displayed at the end of each consultation. This summary

indicates the recommended numerical model, proppant type, and fracturing fluid(s)

appropriate for the set of input parameters. Secondly, a detailed report is displayed,

on screen, in the form of a scrollable window. This report displays the input param-

eters and variables used in the decision making process. Detailed recommendations

on the type of numerical model, propp ant and fluid are presented. In addition,

the results of the economic analysis, as well as a suggested proppant schedule are

presented. Detailed explanations are given on the reasoning behind each of the

recommendations is also given. The detailed report can be saved to disk and/or dis-

patched to the printer, enabling the results of several consultations to be compared

at some time in the future. Typically, each report is 3 to 5 pages in length.

7.1 Recommendations for Future Work

This study has clearly demonstrated that expert system technology can be suc-

cessfully applied to problems facing the petroleum industry. Indeed, during the

course of this study, it became clear that there are several fertile domains to which

194
the application of such techniques is suitable. The current expert system is quite

general, covering a broad problem domain. There are several areas, that were ad-

dressed only superficially by this study, that would benefit from a more detailed

examination. NEXPERT OBJECT has the capability to manipulate several knowl-

edgebases. Thus additional modules or features could be included by creating a new

knowledgebase(s) and linking it to the current system. Additional input screens

could be added to the GUI if supplemental user input is required. Expert systems

perform best if they focus on narrow, well defined, problem domains. Thus, if the

features to be added require the user to enter a large number of additional parame-

ters, it may be more efficient to construct a new stand-alone program that considers

the problem separately. This would ameliorate the problem of large, cumbersome

programs.

It would be relatively simple to group together applications created using the

same software. That is, an interface could be written that allows the user to have

access to several expert systems that focus on different areas of the petroleum in-

dustry. For example, ACIDMAN (Blackburn et al., 1990) was constructed using

Toolbook and Nexpert Object. In addition, an expert system dealing with sand

control (SITEX), using the same software tools, is currently under development at

the University of Oklahoma (Kanj pers. comm.). ACIDMAN and SITEX along

with the current application could be grouped together allowing the user to obtain

advice on matrix acidising, sand control, and hydraulic fracturing without having

to run three different programs. Addition applications could be added as they are

195
finalised.

Several of the input parameters required to run this expert system can be ob-

tained from well logs. Nowadays, well logs are available as a set of digitised data.

One extension of this project could be to integrate well logs into the application,

reducing the number of input parameters requested from the user. This would most

likely involve writing an external executable program that analyses the jogs and

communicates the derived parameters directly to the GUI. Parameters which can

be obtained from well logs include: permeability, porosity, Young's modulus, zone

height, and fracture gradient. The less input required from the user the better, so

this would be a worthwhile project.

Much of the fracture design process is derived from previous experience. If a

previous treatment has been successful then it is common to use the same design

again with minimal consideration given to whether the design could be improved. In

addition, little attention is given to determining why the treatment was successful.

An expert system could be developed to analyse a database containing the design

parameters of many fracture treatments, both successful and unsuccessful, that

have been performed in the field. Such a program could use statistical techniques to

ascertain the middle to long term performance of fractured wells as a function of the

design variables. The expert system could then provide the user with an optimal

treatment design. Clearly, this would be an extremely ambitious project given

the number of input variables and the different criteria used to define a successful

treatment but if such a project were successfully implemented, the economic rewards

196
could be immense.

This expert system provides only generic advice on the types of fracturing flu-

ids and does not recommend specific service company products. In addition, no

information on fracturing fluid additives is provided. Each service company has it's

own product lines of fracturing fluids and additives. Typically, 7 to 8 additives are

used in each fracture treatment and it is crucial that each additive be compatible

with the other additives as well as with the base fluid. Fracturing fluid additives

are discussed in detail in section 3.5.6. An expert system that selects combinations

of additives and base fluids appropriate for a given set of input data would be ex-

tremely useful. The expert system could make recommendations on specific service

company products as each company uses similar products which differ in name only.

The large number of possible combinations of base fluids and additives suggest that

a considerable number of rules would be required to provide the user with useful

recorrunendations. However, implementation of such a system would be extremely

beneficial, especially for novices, for whom the savings in time could be considerable.

It would also be desirable to develop an expert system, similar to the one devel-

oped in this study, that acts as an intelligent front-end to a fracture design program

(or suite of programs). This could entail the results of the consultation being fed

directly into the input stream of a hydraulic fracturing simulator. Design of fracture

treatments is an iterative process in which it is common to try many combinations

of variables to determine the best design. An intelligent front end would reduce the

number of iterations required to find the best design.

197
Chapter 8

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211
Appendix A

Derivation of 2-D Model

equations

A.1 Fracture Width equations

England and Green (1963) derived an equation for the width of a line crack, between

x = -L and x = +L, opened by an equal and opposite normal pressure distribution

on each side of the crack, p. The geometry of the problem is shown in figure A.l.

The crack width is given by:

W(x) = 8(1 - 1/ 2)L . r1 W dW . rW p(s)ds _ ~(Tj1 _ j2 (A.i)


7r E J it. JW2 _ ti Jo y'W2 - S2 2 L

where II is Poisson's ratio, E is Young's modulus, W is the fracture width, (T is the

far-field stress acting perpendicular to the fracture plane, p is the pressure within the

fracture, and Lt. = f where L is the fracture length. The simplest case is to assume a

212
y

W(x)

.'4
L L

Figure A.l: The pressurised crack problem modelled by England and Green (1963).

uniformly distributed load over the entire fracture length. ie p( x) = Po = constant.

Thus equation (A.l) becomes

W(x) = 8(1 - v2)L


7r E
[PO'"J h W dW . t" ds
JW2 _ Jl Jo JW2 - S2
_ ~uJI
2
_ p]
L
(A.2)

Evaluating the integrals separately,

(A.3)

and
,. WdW ~
(AA)
ilL JW2 _ Ii = VI - Jl
Integral (A.3) can be evaluated by using complex analysis and making substitutions

for both Wand s. Integral (AA) can be found in any standard table of integrals

213
(e.g. Abramowitz and Stegun, 1964). So that (A.2) becomes:

W(x) = 4(1-E v 2) . L(po - r:-fx\2(X)2


CT)V 1- \I) (A.5)

This is the general equation for the fracture width at a point and it has the form of

the equation for an ellipse.

A.L1 PKN Model

For a vertical fracture 2L --+ H, where H, is the fracture height. The direction of

fracture propagation is along the z-axis, Thus the fracture width is given by:

(A.6)

W(y) is a maximum when y = 0, so equation A.6 becomes:

_
W, (x, t ) -
w:max ( x, t ) -_ 2(1 - v2)H,D.P(x, t)
E (A.7)

The following assumptions are now made:

HI is constant, and,

l-Dirnensional, isothermal, incompressible, Newtonian fluid flow inside the

fracture.

Equation A.7 can now be coupled to the fluid flow equations. The continuity equa-

tion is given by:


aq aA (A.8)
-+-+ql=O
ax at
214
where q(x, t) is the volume rate of flow through the fracture cross-section at x,

q/( x, t )is the rate of fluid loss to the formation, and A( x, t) is the cross-sectional

area of the fracture perpendicular to the direction of propagation. The variation of

pressure with x is given by:

dp fpfp
(A.9)
dx = 2Dh

where p is the fracturing fluid density, ii is the average fluid velocity, f is the friction

term, and Di; is the hydraulic diameter which is given by:

Dh = 4 x crossecti~nal area = _4A_


wetted perimeter p
with,

(A.10)

The area and perimeter of an ellipse are given by, respectively,

(A.ll)

and,

(A.12)

So that:

Dh = H,W, (A.13)
!Hl: lW

Now H, ~ W, so that A.13 can be written:

(A.14)

215
v is given by:

(A.15)

Substituting A.14, A.15, and A.5 into A.9 gives:

(A.16)

Separating variables and integrating gives:

(A.17)

(A.18)

Substituting A.18 into A.7 gives:

(A.19)

(A.20)

This is the fracture width equation for a single or one-wing fracture. For a two-wing

fracture the total injection rate, Q must be used. i.e. q = tQ. So that A.20 becomes

(Perkins and Kern 1961):

(A.21)

J.L is in centepoise, Q is in barrels per minute, L J is in feet, and E is in psi.

216
A.1.2 GDK Model

The GDK model includes the smooth closing of the crack as the tip is approached.

This is done using Barenblatt's equilibrium condition. i.e.

( 8W)
811 Jz=l
=0 (A.22)

where II = f. Imposing Barenblatt's condition on the England and Green (1963)

solution (equation A.1) results in

'!rEo
rt P(JI) dfl = '!!.. CT + (A.23)
10 /1 - Jl 2 2L(1 - v2)

where a is the specific energy of the rock.

If 2L ~ 4Eo then the second term on the right hand side is approximately

O. In the PKN model, P(JI) was assumed to be constant along the major axis

of the ellipse. In general, for the GDK model, P = P(x). The simplest pressure

distribution can be written:

P(JI) = P

P(ft) = 0

Thus,

(A.24)

Thus,

(A.25)

217
This in Barenblatt's equilibrium concept, assuming that the rock has no tensile

strength. Combining A.25 and A.23 one gets:

flo = sin (;;) (A.26)

Substituting equation A.26 into A.l and making the assumption that as flO - 1,

a- P yields:

(A.27)

At x = 0, W(x, t) = W(O, t) = Ww; thus,

Ww = 4(1 - v2)L(P - a)
(A.28)
7rE

Combining equations A.27 and A.28 yields:

(A.29)

To determine Ww an expression for P is required. It can be shown that:

(A.30)

It can be demonstrated numerically for a variety of pressure distributions (i.e. P( x))

that:

(A.31)

Thus:

(A.32)

wher Pw is the wellbore pressure. Assuming P = Pw yields:

218
(A.33)

This is the GDK wellbore width equation (Geertsma and De Klerk 1969).

Both the PKN and GDK models use the same fracture length equation. This is

derived below.

A.2 Fracture Length Equation

Consider fluid being injected into a fracture. Continuity requires that:

(A.34)

where qi is the rate of fluid injection, ql is the rate of fluid loss to the formation, and

qju is the rate of fracture volume creation by the fluid. The rate of fluid leakoff is

given by:

dql = 2V(t)dA(t) (A.35)

where V(t) is the velocity of the fluid leaking into the formation, and dA(t) is the

fracture area created in the increment of time 6. Thus,

ql(t)
rA(t)
= 2 Jo V(t)dA(t) = 210
r V(t - dA
6)Ttdt (A.36)

Now

(A.37)

219
where IV is the average fracture width. Substituting equations (3.8) and (3.9) into
equation (3.6) gives:
r
qi = 2 Jo V(t - 8)Ttdt
dA _ dA
+ WTt (A.38)

This is a linear integral differential equation. A solution can be obtained by assurn-

ing:

qi = constant; and,

V(t) = Ji.
where C is the fracturing fluid coefficient. Using Laplace transform theory to get;

(A.39)

in the Laplace transform domain, where s is the Laplace transform variable. Rear-

ranging leads to:

A(5) = qi [ 1 ] (AAO)
52 W+2C~
Taking the inverse Laplace transform gives:

A(l) = ;,~ [e~' . erJc(bVt) + 2b~ -,] (AAl)

where
b = 2C_v'i
W

and er] c is the complimentary error function. Defining

2C..(if,
a=
W

220
and writing;

gives:

(A.42)

which is the equation for the fracture length. This equation makes no assumptions

about fracture geometry and so is common to each of the three two-din{ensional

models. If spurt loss is included then equation (3.14) becomes:

(A.43)

where \/sp is the spurt loss and,

2C..;;rt
Q' = ~-,----
W + \!sp

221
Appendix B

Preliminary Questionnaire

B.l Fracture or not ?

1 Why are hydraulic fracturing jobs performed ? i.e. what are the motives be-

hind frac jobs?

2 What factors determine whether it is appropriate to fracture?

3 In which circumstances is it inappropriate to fracture?

4 How does the well type affect the decision to fracture or not ? i.e, are there

different criteria for gas, oil, injection, and disposal wells?

222
5 Who makes the decision to fracture ? (production engineer in the field, or

research engineer at head office?) i.e. at what level in the company hierachy

is the decision made?

6 What data/parameters is it desireable to know before a decision to fracture

is made? (eg Reservoir parameters, economic parameters, rock mechanics

parameters)

7 Which of these are crucial? i.e Which must be known before a decision to

fracture (or no fracture) is made?

8 If some of the crucial data/parameters are not available for the well in ques-

tion, how are these estimated? (eg from measurements at adjacent wells, field

experience, default values etc).

B.2 Fracture design

9 Which parameters are required for a 2-D fracture design?

223
10 Which factors determine the numerical model used to design the fracture?

11 In which circumstances are three dimensional models preferable to two dimen-

sional models?

12 If a two dimensional model is selected, which factors determine whether the

PKN or GDK (or other model) is used?

13 If some of the required parameters are not available for the well in question,

how are the parameters estimated ? (eg default values, laboratory data, pre-

vious frac jobs, designer experience)

14 Which parameters are crucial to the design process? i.e. which parameters is

it essential to know accurately if the fracture design is to be realistic ?

15 Which input parameters are least well determined?

16 Which parameters are the best determined?

224
17 If a three dimensional model is selected what additional data/parameters are

required over and above those needed for a two dimensional model?

18 Do you use (or have you used) more sophisticated models? (eg poroelastic,

thermo-poroelastic, viscoelastic etc)

19 What determines whether a more sophisticated model is appropriate?

20 Do you think that the more sophisticated models resulted is significant im-

provements to the fracture design? i.e. are the improvements (if any) com-

mensurate with the additional effort required to run the programs)

21 Do you use more than one model to design a fracture?

22 If the answer to [21] is yes, which factors determine the most appropriate de-

sign?

23 Which factors influence the choice offracturing ftuid(s) ?

225
24 When are additives used in the fracturing fluids?

25 What is the purpose( s) of crosslinkers ?

26 Which factors determine the choice of crosslinkers ?

27 Which factors determine the choice of proppant ?

28 How is the appropriate propp ant concentration determined ?

B.3 Post fracture analysis

29 What defines a successful fracture job?

30 What proportion of fracture jobs would you consider successful ?

31 Is there any way of comparing the fracture created with the original design?

226
32 Are fracture jobs back analysed to derive more accurate estimates of the the

input design parameters?

33 What improvement in production would be expected to result from a suc-

cessful fracturing job? (Assuming the purpose of fracturing was to increase

production)

B.4 Comments

227
Appendix C

Fracturing fluid selection

e.l Fracturing fluids

1 How is a fracturing fluid selected ?

2 When are water based fracturing fluids most appropriate?

3 When are water based fluids inappropriate?

4 When are oil based fracturing fluids most appropriate?

5 When are oil based fluids inappropriate?

228
6 When are alcohol based fracturing fluids most appropriate?

7 When are alcohol based fluids inappropriate?

8 When are emulsion based fracturing fluids most appropriate?

9 When are emulsion based fluids inappropriate?

10 When are foam based fracturing fluids most appropriate?

11 When are foam based fluids inappropriate?

12 When are energised fracturing fluids most appropriate?

13 When are energised fluids inappropriate?

229
C.2 Additives

14 Are crosslinkers used in fracturing fluids other than water based fluids?

15 What are the most commonly used crosslinkers ?

16 What determines the choice of crosslinker for a particular fracturing fluid?

17 What are the most commonly used biocides ?

18 What determines the choice of biocide for a particular fracturing fluid?

19 What are the most commonly used breakers?

20 What determines the choice of breakers for a particular fracturing fluid ?

21 What are the most conunonly used buffers?

22 What determines the choice of buffer for a particular fracturing fluid ?

230
23 What are the most commonly used surfactants/nonemulsifiers ?

24 What determines the choice of surfactant/nonemulsifier for a particular frac-

turing fluid?

25 What are the most commonly used clay stabilisers?

26 What determines the choice of clay stabiliser for a particular fracturing fluid

25 What are the most commonly used fluid-loss additives?

26 What determines the choice of fluid-loss additive for a particular fracturing

fluid?

27 Are there any circumstances where specific additives should not be used?

C.3 Comments

231